Project xCloud Is The Way for Xbox to Reach Gamers in Africa and India, Says Phil Spencer

Project xCloud App Store

Project xCloud received additional details at E3 2019, even though Microsoft didn't reveal some key information such as pricing (unlike Google, which did it for its own cloud platform, Stadia).

We now know that owners of Xbox consoles will be able to use their own console to stream their games for free, without any fees attached. However, Microsoft's real bid with Project xCloud is to broaden the total addressable market (TAM).

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Speaking to GamesIndustry after the E3 2019 briefing, Head of Gaming Phil Spencer pointed to untapped territories like Africa and India as areas where consoles don't currently do well, unlike smartphones. Thus, Project xCloud could be the perfect way to get these gamers to play Xbox titles.

We know that the first customers for xCloud are going to be people who own an Xbox. It's going to be, 'Oh, I want to play my Xbox when I'm away.' Last month, Catherine [Gluckstein, chief of staff/strategy for Xbox] and I were in Africa. Not a lot of Xboxes in Africa. Not a lot of game consoles. 1.2 billion people on the continent of Africa. Average age is 19 on the continent. They know Fortnite, they know Halo, they know Gears of War. They just don't have a device.

There are gamers there, but the device they have is an Android phone. So today they are kind-of locked out of what an E3 is -- outside of watching -- because of the capability they have.

When I think about the two billion [gamers worldwide], which is a number that has tripled over the last two decades, I really think about how we service the two billion who play today with as much content and services as we can offer, but also go to places like Africa. I was looking at some of the PUBG mobile numbers in India and they're crazy -- they've had 100 million downloads or something. You see these markets where gaming can grow to the next two billion or even more.... There are seven billion people on the planet. For me, I think they should all play video games.

The big question surrounding game streaming via cloud remains the quality of the experience, which is going to be largely determined by latency. Project xCloud should begin public testing later this year and Google Stadia launches in November, so we're not far off from experiencing how these services will actually work in practice.

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