Game streaming went from something that could only be imagined as a far-fetched futuristic concept to something that’s actually a thing and has even gained some steam among users (although some companies aren’t really doing so well). And everyone wants a piece of the game streaming game, from companies like Nvidia to even Microsoft, which also has their own game streaming service called Xbox Cloud Gaming and formerly called xCloud (we’ll still call it xCloud for simplicity sake). Given how you can’t buy an Xbox Series X right now (or maybe you can), this is probably the next best thing, but it has some limitations. The good news is that most of those limitations are going away with new features and improvements in the works.
The first of those improvements is the fact that Microsoft is making a Windows app called Xbox Game Streaming. This Windows app not only will allow you to stream your games from the cloud and deliver the xCloud experience to devices and computers running Windows 10, but it will also allow you to stream games from your own consoles as well if you have either an Xbox Series S or an Xbox Series X, although this last feature isn’t yet functional in this (very rough) unreleased version of the app that The Verge got their hands on.
This app isn’t anything new as it was first uncovered last year in a much rougher state, meaning that Microsoft is actively working on it. Not only will it deliver the xCloud experience to Windows PCs, but it will also be compatible with ARM devices, meaning that you will be able to play your games on your always-connected laptop or tablet as well. This app will also pack in features such as touch support (which will allow you to play without a controller) and gyro support (although this one seems to be broken too).
— Tom Warren (@tomwarren) February 27, 2021
The second of these improvements is 1080p streaming support, as reported by Windows Central. Right now, xCloud streaming is capped at 720p, which is probably fine for smaller displays and smartphones and is actually better in terms of bandwidth and responsiveness as it’s easier to move a 720p stream over a network but can get pretty muddy pretty quickly on a bigger display. 1080p streaming opens up better quality for your games as long as your internet connection allows it.
Other competitors such as Google Stadia already support 1080p streaming, so Microsoft is playing catch-up in this regard. At the same time, most of Microsoft’s server infrastructure is based on Xbox One architecture, and Microsoft is set to switch over to Xbox Series X architecture over the course of this year, so 1080p streaming might be one of the first results of those changes.
Are you an xCloud user? How are you liking these changes?