Console and high-end PC gaming will always have its place in the gaming pantheon, but there was a time towards the end of the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 generation when analysts believed mobile gaming might completely eclipse console gaming. That obviously did not happen, and AAA gaming is as strong as ever, but that hasn’t stopped the growth of mobile gaming. Games like Candy Crush and Angry birds have been cultural phenomenon’s spawning films and various other types of lucrative media and merchandise. Console games like Fortnite and Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds have found a home in the mobile space too with both games now ported to Android and iOS, they have been huge successes even allowing cross-play with console and PC. But the AAA console experience hasn’t quite translated over into the mobile just yet, despite fairly capable mobile hardware and attempts from free-to-play games to blur the lines we’re yet see any real strides from major publishers, until now.
Netflix has revolutionised how we consume media and every entertainment medium would like a slice of that pie, game streaming might be in its infancy but it’s also becoming more viable with widespread 4G connectivity and easily accessible high-speed broadband. Google’s Stadia has stumbled out the gate with a small selection of games and a bizarre pricing structure, but Microsoft’s game streaming service XCloud looks like it could be the service to bring game streaming to a mainstream audience.
XCloud is a unique proposition, positioning itself as the true “Netflix of gaming” with Microsoft first party content releasing day one on the service with no extra costs incurred. With AAA games like Halo Infinite and Gears 5 playable on the service along with a huge variety of 3rd party games from studios big and small all for a low monthly cost. Removing the barrier of entry of a £400+ console, is a genius play by Microsoft meaning at last mobile gamers can play console games with an ease they’ve never had.
What elevates the service beyond the others is it allows for multiple control schemes with touch screen controls, as well as 3rd and 1st party controllers and a rumour of a “Switch style” add on for ultimate portability. XCloud is currently in its infancy and is still in BETA with a full release date rumoured for September. Despite this it still works rather well, its main drawbacks being slowdown, buffering and input lag, the latter of which can be especially frustrating when playing faster paced games. But for the most part XCloud is the first service to truly bring the console experience to a mobile phone, and it will only get better.
None of this would matter without the games, which is another area Goggle’s Stadia has struggled. The line-up on Gamepass is incredibly healthy and the upcoming slate coming from Xbox first party looking extraordinarily strong. XCloud could usher in a new era of mobile gaming – with games having near parity with high powered consoles, it’s an exciting time that’s for sure. Whether mobile gamers will embrace this new way to play remains to be seen, but with console gaming about to become the most accessible it has ever been, maybe a mobile gaming revolution is on the (Forza) horizon.