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Google Stadia is live, but Microsoft's xCloud already feels like the future of cloud games



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Project xCloud is a cloud gaming service to beat.

James Martin / CNET

Google Stadia is open for business and the battle for gaming supremacy is ongoing. But the stagnant glut of the Stadium feels like it's actually making its way into beta – Microsoft's xCloud Project as a cloud gaming service to watch.

Cloud games – services that allow users to play games running on a remote server – ensure that wherever the player goes, they can stay connected to their choice platform. Sony was an early player with its PlayStation Now service in 2014, but Google was disappointed when it announced Stadia at a game developer conference in March. Microsoft followed suit with the release of its cloud gaming service, Project xCloud, at E3 2019.

I spent practical time with all three services, and of the three, I was most excited about Microsoft's cloud gaming for one simple reason: it actually solves a real-world problem.

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Stages of large screen TV.

Sarah Twee / CNET

Lack of storage is a problem that gamers have to deal with. The Xbox One has a 500 GB or 1TB hard drive, and big budget games like Halo 5: Guardians can take up to 100 GB. Every game you buy physically or digitally needs to be installed on the hard disk of the console to be played. For me, it's a library of nearly 200 games (and that doesn't include the other 200 available on the Xbox Game Pass). With its unlimited storage, Project xCloud allows me to access these games without installing them.

Instead of downloading a game, I feel like playing with a whim, Microsoft's cloud streaming service allows me to play Xbox One games on my Galaxy S10 Plus with a $ 25 Bluetooth controller I bought over a year ago, all without any problems. I'm on high speed Wi-Fi.

Stages, on the other hand, give me no solution, only more problems. First, I already have a Steam account gaming computer that has access to a ton of games that I can play from Valve's streaming application, Steam Link. Adding a new platform to Stadia means I have another digital store, not Steam, that requires special purchase (or redemption, in the case of games I already own).

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From now on, Stadia needs additional hardware – Chromecast Ultra – to play on TV. The games are currently priced higher than other platforms, and since I don't have a Pixel phone, my only portable option is a laptop. The current list of games, at 22 games, is less than half of what xCloud promises. Most new and currently hot games are also missing. Instead, Stadium offers older games Tomb Raider and Destiny.

Of the three services, Project xCloud was the one that simply worked best in my practical testing. The stadium worked great when I tried Beta last year, but there were noticeable backlogs when I tried it recently. On the other hand, as long as I'm on good Wi-Fi, I haven't seen much lag with Project xCloud.

Project xCloud already gives me what I need and it's only in beta. Microsoft already has plans for more features and incorporates it with the Xbox Games Pass. If there's a Netflix video game service that has footage of it going mainstream, it's Microsoft that's almost there.


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