What is Project xCloud?

Everything you need to know about Microsoft's game streaming platform

Gaming on a cloud-based platform is potentially the future for many players, and that's the thinking behind Microsoft's version of cloud gaming—Project xCloud. Here's everything you could possibly want to know about the streaming platform, and how you can use it. 

What Is Project xCloud?

Project xCloud is the codename Microsoft has given its cloud gaming platform. It's a form of the Xbox streaming service. That means you can play Xbox One games and more from your smartphone, smart TV or tablet. 

Because Project xCloud is a codename, it may be renamed when it's officially launched. 

How Does Project xCloud Work?

Project xCloud is a kind of Xbox cloud gaming system. All the games are hosted on remote servers with you accessing them via your device and streaming the content. It means you don't have to worry about owning any Xbox system. All you need is a compatible internet connected device and a Wi-Fi or data connection fast enough to stream the game. 

It's similar to Nvidia's GeForce Now service, as well as Google Stadia. Both services also allow players to play high-end games while on the move through smartphones and tablets. 

Potentially, Microsoft could be the best of the bunch though. It has a vast library of over 3,000 Xbox and PC games, plus it believes it will avoid the speed and latency issues which have plagued services like Google Stadia in recent times, thanks to having thousands of data centers at its disposal. 

How Do I Use Project xCloud?

Currently, Project xCloud is running via a beta/preview program. To use it, you need to sign up for the Microsoft xCloud beta preview via the Xbox site and hope you're accepted as part of the program. 

High demand is expected so not everyone who signs up will get to be part of it. To join in, you need an Android device which runs version 6 or above, a compatible Xbox wireless controller, and a data connection of over 10Mbps. 

There's also a more limited iOS preview program for Project xCloud.

In the future, Project xCloud will be more widely available and is expected to be compatible with all smartphones and tablets, as well as PCs.

Do I Need a Games Console? 

No! The point of Project xCloud is anyone can stream games directly from the cloud, even if they don't already own an Xbox games console. Just remember, you do need an Xbox wireless controller though. 

A visual list of games compatible with Project xCloud

What Games Are Available? 

During the current preview program, 50 games are available to play. These include major hits like Crackdown 3, Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, Gears 5, and Halo 5. 

In the future, Microsoft has stated that hundreds of games will be available, covering both Xbox One and Xbox 360 line-ups. PC games are also expected to be available too. Unlike other streaming services, any games that already work on an Xbox One will work here, and don't require altering by game developers. That should mean plenty of games to play. 

How Much Will Project xCloud Cost?

The Project xCloud Public Preview is free if you're given an invite and accepted onto the program. 

There's no word yet on how much it will cost when it's officially launched. It's highly likely it will be a subscription service like Netflix, but Microsoft hasn't announced any price details yet. 

Xbox Game Pass costs $10 per month so it seems likely something like Project xCloud would be similar, as it involves many of the same games. 

Are There Any Downsides to Project xCloud?

Project xCloud sounds great on paper, but there may be some potential disadvantages to the service.

The main issue is it will heavily depend on your internet connection. If you live somewhere with a poor internet connection or are restricted to how much data you can use each month, a streaming service isn't a great idea. You may be limited in what you can accomplish, or be charged a lot more by your ISP compared to simply buying a games console. 

There may also be issues with lag as the system is so heavily dependent on the internet connection. In particular, when playing against other players, there might be some slowdown issues which could affect playability.

And, of course, you can't play anything offline. You need to be connected to Wi-Fi or cellular data at all times. 

On the plus side, unlike Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, there won't be any issues when it comes to game availability due to the connection to Xbox.