Microsoft may be making a $60 mini Xbox for xCloud game streaming
Stadia, Google’s ambitious cloud-streaming project aimed at gamers, is not exactly a one-of-a-kind service. We’ve seen similar services from the likes of GameCloud, Vortex, and Cloudzen. While they were all a nice idea, none of them really succeeded. A lack of big modern titles, coupled with unreliable connections at times meant that the services didn’t gain much traction beyond the initial novelty. Google, however, is perfectly poised to take the market by storm. With high-speed infrastructure all over the world, connections with hundreds of big companies, and a massive budget, Google developing Stadia makes a lot of sense. But it’s not the only company capable of such a feat. Microsoft’s xCloud service is something we’ve been seeing a lot of lately.
Currently, xCloud is confined to already-existing devices. It’s available for PC, Xbox, and mobile. Going into preview in October of this year, it’ll allow users to enjoy console-quality games on devices that otherwise may not be capable of running them. However, there were rumors that Microsoft was working on a standalone box for xCloud. Now, thurrott.com‘s Brad Sams has reignited those rumors in a YouTube video.
Sams says that Microsoft is starting to feel really confident in xCloud, and with the removal of Project Lockhart, it’s allowing them to focus more on the service. This has led to the development of this mini-Xbox style device that connects a controller to xCloud and streams games. Sams says that this device is intended to be a low-power, low-latency device that has minimal computing power. He explains that the only computing the device itself will do is moving the player’s character in virtual space since this is the aspect of games that is most prone to being affected by latency. Sams goes on to say that it is not a certainty that Microsoft will be shipping this device just yet. However, given the market potential for something like this, it seems likely.
The market potential is there because this xCloud box could potentially undercut Stadia in terms of price. According to Sams, the box would cost $60 and potentially an extra $15-$20 for a controller. The Founder’s Edition of Stadia costs $129, which is significantly more.
As the hype for Microsoft’s Project Scarlett – a.k.a the next Xbox generation – builds, it’s important to not forget about the importance of a smaller project such as this one. It provides a nice middle ground between the full price of a standalone console and the 3rd party device requirements of xCloud just by itself.