New cloud gaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud could be impacted by the delayed rollout of new 5G workouts across the world. That’s according to analysts at App Annie and Sensor Tower, who explained to GameIndustry.biz that the recent bans of Huawei network equipment in the UK and the US will force mobile carriers in these countries to look for other suppliers to build their 5G networks.
Cloud gaming services are currently compatible with existing 4G networks, but 5G the transition from 4G to 5G should be a much bigger gap compared to the transition from 3G to 4G in the past decade. "While 4G does a great job, 5G ensures faster speed, better latency, and greater capacity, and the latter is important for a smooth gameplay experience in a busy area. While streaming services will still work, 5G will clearly enhance the experience significantly,” Sensor Tower's EMEA mobile insights strategist Craig Chapple told GameIndustry.biz.
Microsoft kicked off its Project xCloud public preview back in October in select markets including South Korea, a country where 5G networks are already available. Microsoft has teamed up with leading South Korean carrier SK Telecom, which announced back in January that "Project xCloud preview participants in Korea are on average spending 1.75 times more time gaming and revisiting three times more compared to the participants in the United States and United Kingdom.”
Project xCloud is still in public testing in several markets across the world, and Microsoft announced earlier this month that the cloud gaming service will officially launch in September as a free perk for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. It's probably the right business model for Project xCloud, allowing the company the boost its number of Xbox Game Pass subscribers while continuing to work with mobile carriers to optimize the cloud gaming service for 4G and 5G networks across the world.
In other Project xCloud related news, Xbox head Phil Spencer recently confirmed in an interview with GameStar (via EuroGamer) that Microsoft isn't planning to bring its cloud gaming service to other consoles from Sony and Nintendo. According to the exec, that's because Microsoft won't be able to bring the complete experience to these platforms, unlike what the company managed to do on mobile devices:
"The thing about other gaming console platforms is we're not able to bring a full Xbox experience on those platforms," Spencer said. "In places where we have brought Xbox - mobile phones like we're doing now with Project xCloud with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate [and] what we've done with PC bringing our full Xbox experience there - we know when somebody is playing one of our Xbox games there is an expectation that they've got their Xbox Live community, they have their Achievements, Game Pass is an option, my first-party library is completely there... The other competitive platforms really aren't interested in having a full Xbox experience on their hardware. But for us, we want to be where gamers want to be and that's the path that we're on," the exec said.
It's true that the Xbox Game Streaming app on iOS and Android requires the use of an Xbox controller, which isn't supported on PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch consoles. It's hard to know if Microsoft could possibly find a workaround at some point, but for now, Project xCloud will launch first on mobile devices, though we already know that a Windows 10 app is also in the works.