Microsoft is sending out invites to users who sign up for the Project xCloud preview. After months of waiting, Microsoft’s entry in the cloud gaming race is ready to show itself — albeit to a group of users in specific test regions.
Those invited to partake of the preview will be able to play a few Microsoft games, such as Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, and Halo 5, on their mobile devices. As the moniker “cloud gaming” suggests, you don’t have to download the titles, but simply stream them from Microsoft’s servers. Early reports from Reddit users claim the preview works fairly well, with some delay between input and action.
Project xCloud is a go! pic.twitter.com/bY5tblv0CP
— Paul Thurrott (@thurrott) October 14, 2019
At the moment, the preview is only available to gamers in the US, UK, and South Korea. According to the xCloud FAQ: “It will be a multi-year journey to deliver this technology to gamers around the world at the quality we want to meet, so we will be adding more regional availability as we learn more and create a great game streaming experience.”
xCloud’s primary rival, Stadia, launches next month, so it’s probably a good moment for Microsoft to remind everyone about xCloud’s existence. While Google’s been talking a good game about what Stadia is capable of in the lead-up to its launch, it’s yet to allow users to really test it, and at launch the only people who’ll be able to do so are those willing to shell out for the $129 Founder’s Edition. A free preview from Microsoft is just a better look by comparison — albeit one that only a few people will be able to take advantage of.
The other potential competition, PlayStation Now — which doesn’t work with mobile devices but which has the honor of being the first publicly available cloud gaming service — has recently dropped in price. The cloud gaming wars feel closer than ever, and it’s good to see at least one of the two upcoming services is showing potential. Now the question remains to be seen: will it be able to hold up to scrutiny once it rolls out to a wider audience?
To sign up, you need an Android phone running 6.0 or later, a wireless Xbox One Bluetooth controller, 5Ghz Wi-Fi, and a Microsoft account. If you have all of those things, you can sign up here.