Project xCloud and why Surface 'Andromeda' should gun for a gaming focus

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Dec 17, 2013
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For years the idea of an Xbox handheld has been met with both hope and ridicule, but with Xbox game streaming on the horizon, it makes more sense than ever.
Microsoft's xCloud game streaming service was unveiled earlier this week, detailing how the company plans to reach "hundreds of millions" more gamers by streaming AAA Xbox content to mobile devices and beyond.
While Android and iOS are dominant in mobile gaming, those platforms are typically associated with predatory "pay2win" free to play-type titles, far flung from the premium experience we enjoy on PlayStation, Nintendo, Xbox, and PC. The blockbuster titles associated with core titles are extremely costly to build, however, making the need to reach a wider audience absolutely paramount for the industry's growth (and indeed, health). That's one of the driving factors behind Sony's PlayStation Now, NVIDIA's GeForce Now, Google's Project Stream, and now, Microsoft's Project xCloud.
Streaming games to devices far too weak to run them otherwise represents massive untapped potential in the market, particularly so on Android, which remains the world's largest mobile platform. Given Android's dominating position, there's no way they would be able to block xCloud or other competing game streaming services either, without raising eyebrows among anti-competition regulators across the globe. All Microsoft (and others) have to do, is get the service right. Naturally, Microsoft is arguably in a better position to do this than most, including Google itself, thanks to its vast established library of digital games.

However, the idea of playing core games on a phone is completely alien to many, particularly casual gamers who are perhaps more likely to play something like Candy Crush than Assassin's Creed Odyssey, for no reason other than the convenience of grabbing a free app and killing some time. Lowering the barriers to the point where Microsoft will be able to convert casual mobile gamers into core console gamers might be straight up impossible. That said, I think Microsoft has an opportunity, combined with Surface, to create desire among regular consumers by setting up a compelling hardware narrative.

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