For a long, long time, streaming games have been the unicorn for console companies. The idea — that games can be streamed like TV is now — is seemingly simple enough, but playing a game stored on a remote server has turned out to be harder than it looks. It’s also been a hard sell for consumers, something no company knows better than Microsoft. But reports say Microsoft is about to take another swing at making game streaming a thing with its Scarlett project.
The Verge reports that at least one of the new Xboxes will be designed to stream games as its only way to play:
The streaming-only console will reportedly include a low amount of local compute for handling tasks like controller input, image processing, and collision detection. These tasks are essential to reducing latency in game streaming, and Microsoft is said to be planning to slice up processing between the game running locally and in the cloud in order to reduce input lag and other image processing delays.
The idea is that if you want to play a game, you fire up the console and it interacts with a server blade made out of four custom Xboxes. That server handles the heavy lifting for games, and your presumably small and sleek streamer console handles the rest. Of particular interest, though, is that the streaming service this supports won’t be limited to consoles; you can stream the games on your phone, your computer, and presumably anything else with the firepower to handle the necessary onboard tasks. That’s certainly intriguing, and that Microsoft seems not to care if you buy its hardware or not is a bold move.
That said, there’s no shortage of game streaming services at the moment, and none of them have truly caught on. Part of this is the quality of internet service in much of the world, including the U.S. Granted, there’s a push by Google, Microsoft, and others to finally upgrade our broadband infrastructure to modern levels, but that’s a complicated question. Unless Microsoft has a big plan to get far better broadband out there, this console might be little more than a curiosity for most gamers.
(Via The Verge)