During a panel part of Microsoft’s Game Stack Live, the house of Xbox talked more about the Xbox Series X and Project xCloud.
We heard from Project xCloud General Manager Catherine Gluckstein, Xbox partner director of program management Jason Ronald, Microsoft gaming program manager Rachel Card, and partner head of Xbox Design Studio Chris Novak.
Here’s a summary of what was shared.
- Many of the technologies being incubated and developed for Xbox Series X will be brought to PC and then into cloud gaming as well.
- The team knew they needed to invest into certain technologies so that the games can be put into the cloud down the line without having to significantly rewrite them.
- The development of Xbox Series X started in 2016 before the release of Xbox One X. It’s years worth of investigations and prototyping and fruit of the clear vision of where the team Xbox sees games going in the future.
- We get to see a server blade of Project xCloud. You can check it out in the gallery at the bottom of the post.
- In order to showcase Project xCloud to developers, the team simply displays their own games running on mobile platforms via xCloud. Developers are “blown away” because those are set up in minutes without any extra work by them. When a game is designed for Xbox it’s also automatically designed for xCloud.
- Microsoft has noticed that players playing on xCloud are also playing more on Xbox consoles and PC.
- If developers want to optimize their game further for xCloud, they can, and Microsoft is working hard and providing tools so that it’s easier for them.
- As opposed to the GPU, the game designs enabled by having a more powerful CPU is perhaps even more interesting. You can make games look real, but it’s important to also make them act realistic with physics, AI, and more. Worlds will “feel and sound much more real” with sound and simulations which will mark a “giant step forward.”
- Microsoft is trying to eliminate the friction for developers so that they can focus on making great games instead of things like building datacenters and things like that.
- Project xCloud can run games without the games themselves even being aware that it’s not being run on a local physical console. Yet, there is a focus in making them “cloud-aware” so that they can be optimized with things like bigger fonts or simplified UI so that they can be easier to enjoy on smaller screens.
- It’s important to put the power in the hands of the developers because they know better what’s best for their games. Microsoft’s mission is to enable that.
- The Xbox Series X puts gamers and developers at the center. Gamers want more games, they want to play with more people, and they’re playing on more devices. Developers are continually pushing boundaries to reach more players around the world who are playing on more devices and more platforms. The Xbox Series X has been built for this evolving landscape of players playing on multiple devices, with technology is converging across consoles, PC, and cloud. Microsoft wants gamers to feel unconstrained and they’re working with developers to unlock that potential.
- From a developer’s perspective, Microsoft is working to create hardware that allows devs to deliver their vision, empowering them to create how they want because they know what’s best for their own games, providing the tools they need now and in the future.
- There is no “either-or” scenario for Xbox. Consoles and Cloud are “better together.” Microsoft aims the Xbox Series X to lead its foray into the next generation, and then to extend that experience to players who want to play in the cloud.
- This will also expand the total addressable market. Microsoft aims to bring its gaming offerings to new markets (like India, which is a very big market) and new people. This also fits the “better together” vision.
- The idea is to help people connect with the content they want to play as often as they want to, regardless of whether they are at home or standing in line for five minutes. It’s about giving players the chance to engage with the experience they want more often and with more people.
- There are a lot of technical challenges in designing a UI that can work on different devices. That being said, the UI’s mission is to connect gamers with the content. The UI has to look good on different endpoints, but another important factor is what should be shown at any given time, understanding what players have been doing across their games to guide what the UI should show in the right place and at the right time.
- Developers are encouraged to keep building games the way they have always been. If developers are building a PC game, Microsoft is making it very easy to take the PC code base and get it running on a console or on the cloud. They have partnered very closely with the top industry middleware and engine providers to make sure that their products are fully optimized to take advantage of what Microsoft is delivering including hardware capabilities, services, Xbox Live, Azure, PlayFab, and more.
- Technology should fade away in the background so developers can simply leverage it and focus on what they want to make.
- Another important point is the concept of cloud-native games, which harness the full power of the cloud. Card traveled to Japan and Korea and it was fascinating for her to see how local developers were leaning into really understanding how the cloud can change the process and the iteration of development.
- Microsoft would like developers to “jump in” and help them understand how they can further reduce that friction. They also want to help them reach gamers anywhere gamers are going.
- One of the learning points of developing the next generation is that the lack of certain constraints creates new challenges because some of these limitations were previously “counted on” and this challenges preconceptions.
- With Xbox One X, Microsoft wanted to provide developers a “playground” to play with. Now with Xbox Series X, they have an entire amusement park. It can be a little overwhelming to figure out where to invest and what are the new opportunities. Developers are advised to challenge themselves and build creatively the games they have always wanted to build. They also should provide feedback if the tools don’t enable that, as it fundamentally shifts the direction for the platform.
- The team hopes that developers will feel excited about the future, about next-gen hardware and software, and about the things they can build together.
If you’d like to see more, you can check out our article about the latest reveal, another about the Xbox Series X’s controller, a third showing images and animated GIFs focusing on Gears 5 and Minecraft, and a fourth showing loading times and the quick resume feature.
The Xbox Series X is scheduled to release in the upcoming Holiday season, and Microsoft did not hint to any delays in today’s reveal.