Microsoft's Project xCloud is a cloud-based game streaming service that is currently in preview. It's only significant competitor in the cloud gaming market is Google Stadia, which has failed to impress since it launched last November. However, Microsoft and Google could soon face a major rival in the form of Amazon.
According to the New York Times, Amazon plans to launch a cloud game streaming that will include exclusive games. The first original game from the company will be the science-fiction shooter Crucible, which is launching in May. It seems Crucible with proceed the cloud gaming service, which is not close to a launch.
“Crucible is a third-person, last one standing game of trust and betrayal. Each match pits human and alien competitors with unique weapons and abilities against one another on a lush, alien world. Players make and break alliances on the fly. In Crucible it takes a mix of combat skill, strategic planning, and social finesse to survive,” according Amazon's official website for its original games.
When the streaming service is available, it will bring to fruition Amazon's long-standing flirtation with gaming. Of course, the company already owns streaming platform Twitch and a wider move into gaming has been long expected.
It also makes sense to make it a game streaming service considering Amazon is so heavily invested in the cloud with AWS. Interestingly, if the company does enter the cloud-based game streaming market, it will create an interesting market. The three leading cloud providers, Amazon, Microsoft, and Google would all have cloud gaming services.
“The big picture is about trying to take the best of Amazon and bringing it to games,” said Mike Frazzini, Amazon's vice president for game services and studios. “We have been working for a while, but it takes a long time to make games, and we're bringing a lot of Amazon practices to making games.”
At the moment, the idea of a cloud game streaming platform remains in development. Working under the codename Project Tempo, the service will enter directly alongside Project xCloud and Google Stadia.
It is arguable that Amazon will have to move quickly to compete as any significant delay could allow xCloud and Stadia to get a market lead. On the surface, it seems that Stadia will be more of a competitor than xCloud. Microsoft has something new entries into the gaming market cannot offer… access to hundreds of fully fledged console games from Xbox One.
Other Console Makers
Indeed, xCloud feels much more like a play anywhere Xbox One. The one outlier is Sony, and to an extent Nintendo. The two Japanese companies are dominant in the console market, but neither has explored cloud gaming in-depth. It will be interesting to see how Sony and Nintendo approach this new frontier of gaming in over the next year.
Certainly, when Sony launches the PlayStation 5 later this year, I hope the company offers plans for a robust cloud streaming service. PlayStation Now has largely failed to deliver on its promise, leaving Sony out of the conversation when discussing cloud gaming.
It is possible Microsoft will be more concerned about Sony and Nintendo becoming competitors than Google and Amazon. Perhaps the company can differentiate xCloud enough from its cloud competitors based on its link to Xbox. Such a differentiation would be more difficult to make against fellow console manufacturers.