For players, the game is too big. At the just-concluded E3 2021 game show, Microsoft seemed to have learned the mind-reading technique, serving players one plate after another delicious meal, most of which will be synchronized to Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass subscription on the release day. Started in service. This is undoubtedly a great gift for the original and potential users of XGP.
However, Microsoft may feel that this is not enough, they hope to continue this passion after the meeting.
With the help of cloud technology, the old host has a new machine
After the keynote speech, Xbox officially issued a press release . If the content is a summary of the new game, there is a line that reads:
For the milloons of people who play on Xbox One consoles today, we are looking forward to sharing more about how we will bring many of these next-gen games, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator, to your console through Xbox Cloud Gaming, just like we do with mobile devices, tablets, and browsers.
The general idea is that Microsoft is seeking a way for Xbox One players to play the next generation of new games. To achieve this goal through the xCloud cloud game service, the final effect will be like on mobile devices, tablets and browsers.
Microsoft has previously revealed that it plans to allow Xbox console users to use the "Trial Play" feature later this year. When players download games, they can use cloud games to get a glimpse and pass the time waiting for the game to be downloaded locally.
This function can also be used for users to experience a small part of the game content before purchasing the game, and then make a decision after trying it out. For players, the decision-making path has undergone a slight change compared to the past. Buying a game is no longer an open blind box. It is undoubtedly a safer experience to play first and then pay.
For game manufacturers, they need to think about their release date. If the quality of the game is full of flaws after the listing, the previous players may break their teeth and swallow them, and they have to buy them. They have to wait for the follow-up update patch and wait for the game. Play after the quality is perfect. However, once the demo function is launched, players will not want to "chop their hands" after playing the prologue. This is likely to affect the first wave of sales of the new work after it goes public.
▲ “No Man's Sky'' is such a game that relies on continuous updates to reverse bad reviews
Historically, games that have been highly anticipated before the release, and with bad reviews after the release abound, and the "trial play" function may be able to play a spur.
On the Xbox One console, the role of xCloud cloud games is more than just a trial. The Xbox One console was officially launched in November 2013. Eight years have passed since then, and its hardware configuration has shown signs of fatigue in the face of next-generation new works.
If you want to play locally, you need the game studio to specifically optimize for the old model. This not only increases the cost, but may need to develop in a more universal game engine in order to achieve high compatibility, and it may also affect the Xbox Series X|S player's playing experience.
▲ Compared with Xbox One X and XSX, the reading speed of the former game is a lot slower
When xCloud logs on to the Xbox One console, players can keep up with the times and play the latest 3A masterpieces without changing the hardware. The experience depends only on the network environment.
For players, the gaming experience is not discounted; for Microsoft, the XGP subscription system goes a step further.
Microsoft's game of chess is a bit big
XGP, whose full name is Xbox Game Pass, is a game subscription service launched by Microsoft in 2017. It is similar to the membership services provided by Apple Music and major streaming media, except that the products that users enjoy after paying have changed from audio and video to game.
The membership fee has increased from US$9.99/month at the beginning to US$14.99/month. At the highest price, players can enjoy hundreds of high-quality games on PC and Xbox consoles at the same time, and of course the xCloud service.
▲ Playing large-scale games through xCloud on Android devices, picture source: Slashgear
In April last year, the number of XGP subscribers was 10 million, which increased to 15 million in September of the same year. After Microsoft acquired B company, statistics in April 2021 show that the number of XGP users has reached 23 million, which is above this number. , Even if you make a rough calculation based on the membership price of the PC/Host option, which is $9.99 per month, it can be calculated that XGP alone can earn Microsoft $229 million in revenue per month.
From not being favored by the outside world, to spending a lot of money to build a rich game library, today's XGP is like sitting on a rocket, red and purple. Microsoft uses the massive amount of works in the XGP library to stick users, and then relies on this huge number of users to attract third-party studios to join Microsoft’s distribution system. For developers, joining XGP means more High exposure can save you a large amount of publicity costs. This can be said to be a win-win situation for the three parties.
▲ The results of the acquisition of Bethesda: XGP game library added 30 3A masterpieces in one go
At present, xCloud cloud gaming is only one of the services under the XGP system, but it is an important part of Microsoft's chess game.
Earlier this month, market analysis company Finbold released the next-generation console sales data. Microsoft's Xbox Series X|S series sold more than 5.12 million units, far behind Sony's Playstation 5 with 8.6 million units. Whether the sales of the two companies will be reversed is still unknown, but from the perspective of Microsoft's plan to transform the previous generation console into a cloud game console, Microsoft wants to turn cloud games into the future form of the game industry.
We have discussed the status and future of cloud games in the past. At that time, most people were still pessimistic. The most controversial was the network factor. If we think about it from another angle, we now want to play in the 3A masterpiece with a smooth screen, at least You need a next-generation console. If you want to go to the next level, you need to spend a higher price to buy a game book or a DIY console. The cost can be imagined.
▲ Choose host or computer, picture source: IGN
If you switch to cloud games, the only thing players have to consider is internet speed. In this way, do you still think cloud games are out of reach?
On the Xbox Hong Kong official website, the banner picture of "Halo: Master Chief Collection" reads host, PC, and the cloud. This may mean that Microsoft's first-party studio has done a good job of adapting to the cloud, and we are really far from cloud gaming. It's not far away anymore.
What else can cloud gaming change?
When old consoles can also play the latest game masterpieces through cloud games, will people still pay for new devices? Going a step further, will manufacturers spend their time developing new hardware products? Will future hardware products become boring?
I think the answer is less pessimistic than it is. We might as well open our minds. Microsoft is pushing hard for the development of cloud games, which may lead to another potential trillion-dollar market, the VR industry.
▲ Oculus Quest 2nd generation
The current VR devices can be said to be facing the same situation as the Xbox One host. The local computing power is not strong enough, resulting in extremely weak content. Due to hardware specifications, developers cannot achieve fine graphics on VR devices, and vice versa. This makes VR lose the ability to attract ordinary consumers. Under such a vicious circle, VR has not been popularized.
However, VR devices have a high sense of immersion, which happens to be an important feature required for games.
The relationship between VR and games is like French fries and ketchup. The two are perfect partners. However, current VR devices have been unable to provide gamers with the best audiovisual experience due to the limited local capabilities. .
▲ Microsoft wants to use XGP and xCloud to achieve Play anywhere
From the fact that Microsoft hopes to give Xbox One a new life through cloud gaming, I see the possibility of a VR revolution. Maybe sooner or later the computing power of VR devices will reach the level of playing 3A masterpieces, but before that, cloud gaming may It is also a good combination choice.
At that time, people will continue to use their imagination on VR/AR hardware to create the next iPhone-level device and continue to change the world.
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