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How to play Xbox Project xCloud preview tests

Windows Central 2019-08-13 18:30:02

Xbox One soon reaches for the skies, with Microsoft on track to deliver its Project xCloud game-streaming service. Bringing full-fledged console gaming to smartphones, the ambitious platform provides the best of Xbox while on-the-go. Here's what to expect from upcoming Project xCloud preview trials planned for this October.

What is Xbox Project xCloud?

Poised to mobilize Microsoft's gaming portfolio, Project xCloud is an upcoming cloud-based game streaming service based on the existing Xbox One family. Leveraging the firm's cloud dominance, Project xCloud expands Xbox gaming beyond physical consoles, reaching an untapped gaming crowd. First targeting low-latency mobile streaming, the service brings the power of an Xbox One to your existing mobile. After the hands-on opportunities at E3 2019, the service is finally on track for at-home testing.

While Project xCloud will allow anyone to stream Xbox One games, the service formally divides between two separate components. At its heart lies true remote streaming, utilizing cloud-hosted consoles to serve games on your mobile phone. Since it's set to expand Microsoft's lineup of Xbox services, some form of subscription will likely tie into these offerings.

Project xCloud "Console Streaming" is an accompanying alternative for existing Xbox One owners, streaming your home console over the internet. This feature will be free for those with an Xbox One console and takes the horsepower and games library on the move. Xbox Console Streaming will kickstart Project xCloud trials this October in "preview," ahead of a broader rollout at a later date.

Where will Project xCloud be available?

While Microsoft's established cloud infrastructure spans worldwide, custom Xbox server blades used by Project xCloud have first rolled out to select regions. The low-latency nature of game streaming requires relative proximity and will likely limit who can play initial public tests.

Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Gaming Cloud Kareem Choudhry confirmed 13 Azure regions were packing xCloud hardware in May 2019, with "an initial emphasis on proximity to key game development centers." Early testing is first expected to target regions in North America, Asia, and Europe, with availability to grow alongside the service. We already know Project xCloud hardware has been installed in Microsoft's Washington and California "U.S. West" Azure regions and the London-based "U.K. South" locale.

Which phones will support Project xCloud?

Microsoft indicates that Project xCloud will eventually touch devices of all shapes and sizes, though the initial pitch doubles down on mobile gaming. Recent showcases have focused exclusively on Android devices, with its iOS plans yet to be outlined. With no talk of iOS support so far, it could be indicative of potential exclusivity locking down initial tests to Android.

While Project xCloud will hit most modern Android phones, pre-release marketing heavily features Samsung Galaxy devices, bolstering its continued mobile partnership. Microsoft's tight Windows 10 integration for the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 only elevates this relationship, also perceived as the "signature" device for Project xCloud. E3 2019 saw both the Samsung Galaxy S10 and Razer Phone 2 featured, likely chosen for their premium gaming status in 2019.

How to play Xbox Project xCloud tests early

Microsoft remains quiet on precise details surrounding Project xCloud testing beyond its slated October preview debut announced at E3 2019. Initial trials will seemingly focus on the Console Streaming feature of the service, likely requiring both an Xbox One console and compatible Android-based device.

It's also unclear how Microsoft will handle Project xCloud tests, beyond speculation. The Xbox Insider Program is a natural host, given its tiered following of Xbox enthusiasts, and already proven for new features, services, and games. Past Microsoft flighting has also used sign-up pages, its Xbox Game Pass subscription service, and simple app downloads, all possibly on the agenda for Project xCloud.

Expect more news on the first wave of Project xCloud availability in the coming weeks ahead of the first scheduled tests.

Our top equipment picks

Converting any existing Xbox One controller into your portable gaming companion, the Jovitec Xbox One Foldable Controller Clip delivers an xCloud-ready phone mounting solution. Its clip-on design is easy to attach (and detach) from official gamepads, and is paired with an adjustable slider that maintains a firm grip on your phone.

Strapped in

Take your Xbox One controller on-the-go with ease

This foldable Jovitech controller clip effortlessly mounts any phone safely and securely. Plus, it's conveniently affordable.

Google's low-cost entries to the Pixel lineup balance impressive hardware at an affordable price, retaining much of its beloved premium handsets. Loaded with clean Android for Project xCloud and also among the first Google Stadia-compatible mobiles, there's no better game-streaming handheld on the market.

Best Budget Android

An affordable Project xCloud phone

With a large 6-inch HD display and impressive accompanying hardware, the Google Pixel 3a XL will draw the best from Project xCloud at launch. Bundling the best of the premium Pixel lineup for a fraction of the price, it's our top Android pick for budget gaming.