The future of cloud game era is coming. Solving synchronization problem is the key.


Phil Spencer, the head of Xbox, has been busy all day, devoting all his energies to the next generation of Xbox consoles and helping to build a new research and development team. He and his colleagues in Microsoft’s game department manage an ecosystem designed to meet the needs of gamers as much as possible, including the development of new technologies. Cloud games cover a wide range of areas, and Microsoft’s game streaming technology allows players to experience the powerful functions of Xbox games through networked mobile phones, which is why Phil Spencer supports the cloud game service Project xCloud.
GameSpot and Spencer have recently discussed many topics, including how he views the adaptation of xCloud to Xbox. Spencer also stated his ideas, such as how xCloud will influence traditional home game consoles and how new technologies will change the future direction of game consoles.
Spencer said: “Cloud games will be one of the development directions of the industry, which is the expectation of gamers, but I do not want to tell you that video game boxes are bad or unnecessary. I think the cloud is bound to be an integral part of the game, but at the same time there will be more computing devices around us than ever before, such as mobile phones, Surface Hub and Xbox. The day has not yet come when we rely solely on cloud computing devices.
Physical hardware devices are also important for cloud games. Xbox does not have new devices specifically designed for cloud games. Spencer explained: “I talked about xCloud last year and said we were developing new game controllers, but we didn’t talk about developing stream controllers. Maybe some people think that the CD-ROM we just released is a stream controller, but that’s not the case. We now use your mobile phone in your pocket as the terminal and controller of streaming media so that you can play local games. Of course, if you buy a large game monitor and like to play games on it, I will respect you and configure the content and services you want for your device; if you want to buy an Xbox or play My World on the PlayStation, we will meet your needs.
Over the years, the main problem associated with cloud games is lag, especially how to quickly translate controller instructions into action on the screen. This is a very real problem for Google Stadia Cloud Game, especially for fast shooting games like “Destroyer”. Spencer did not shy away from this problem, he said frankly: “Anyone will tell you that the game will lag behind.”
Spencer continued: “From the perspective of transparency, we have to tell consumers a very important fact that we have developed a handy feature in xCloud that can give you an Xbox experience. Although we focus on mobile phones, the game experience on mobile phones is not exactly the same as that on Xbox. Mobile phones are not 8k, 120 Hz devices after all. We just want to bring some convenient and new choices for your mobile phones. Users can enter a party, we can chat voice, from the perspective of community and content, everything is the same as when I use the operator, but the feeling of operating through the cloud is different.
Spencer’s mobile phone is already equipped with an early version of xCloud. He has previously demonstrated the process of playing games to the public. It seems that xCloud has a sound function. When we asked whether it would be launched as a full service in October, Spencer said, “In 2019, we will launch it in some specific markets, and then gradually open it up. At present, we are conducting in-house experiments, and members of the R&D team can install applications and streaming games on their mobile phones.
“One of the benefits of our work at Microsoft is its global data center, Azure, which allows us to put a lot of hardware around people. It must be admitted that Microsoft’s expensive data center has accelerated our progress, so we can start developing and making users play Xbox games on mobile phones in 2019, and we will soon receive a lot of feedback.
This year’s launch of ProjectxCloud just means the beginning of Xbox game streaming services. Microsoft will continue to iterate. Spencer emphasizes that technology transformation takes time. He believes that there are still several years to go before the accepted mainstream game mode is adopted. He says, “Let’s review the 20-year history of Netflix. The rapid development of technology has made us forget that 20 years have passed, so it seems that it took us 20 years to watch large-scale programs such as “Game of Power” and “House of Cards” through streaming media. It shouldn’t take 20 years for streaming games to reach that level, but it won’t be two years. Technological changes don’t happen overnight.
Spencer said: “The development of these services is long-term, and our R&D is long-term, which is why the choice is so important. I’m not asking you to sell your game consoles and switch to streaming media. After all, the game experience is different. I think in reaching users, games and content need to be democratized, so it’s important that we don’t lock these experiences into certain devices. Over time, our services and infrastructure can reach global users through high-quality web services, but that takes time. When we talk about Project xCloud, we use the word’experiment’. It’s not that we don’t believe in our technology. Compared with other people, our technology is not inferior. Our team works very well, but it’s a matter of time and user choice.

In the future, the development of xCloud may bring some creative uses. We can see some clues from the multiplayer games and physical processing in Anti-riot Police 3. Spencer and his team are considering things other than games, and they plan to make it part of the industry’s largest conference, the Electronic Entertainment Exhibition (E3). He said: “At the Electronic Entertainment Exhibition, we intend to let participants feel the real game and play Xbox games on their mobile phones.”
The success of cloud games, especially xCloud, lies in the participation of developers in new technologies, which is one of the reasons why Xbox is leading. Spencer elaborates on this point: “We have begun to place servers near the location of the largest third-party developers, and third-party developers are already able to participate, and they can be in the hands of them.” It’s important to see games on the phone, because you can learn about font size, how the game works on the phone, and so on. Therefore, third-party developers must personally participate in the experience. In addition, we have added the Xbox software development toolkit, which is to facilitate the flow of state, developers want to do some different operations for local games. All Xbox game developers can participate in deciding whether the game is running on streaming media or locally, which I think is a good complement.
Spencer said: “Some developers will experience it ahead of time, and some early users are applying for it because cloud services offer more possibilities than home devices. A good example is that the blade servers of Xbox in the data center correspond to many single blade servers, just as the Xbox controllers in your home are connected by hard wires, which make the delay caused by these controllers negligible. But if we play online games, there will be a time lag between the places where we live, and it will take some time for our Xbox controller to synchronize.