Microsoft: Streaming games is cool but problematic for now

Microsoft logoWeve known for a while that the Xbox One won't offer native support for playing older Xbox 360 games, but Microsoft executives have hinted that the system may eventually be able to run legacy titles streaming from cloud-based servers. These hints got even stronger when Microsoft demonstrated Xbox 360 title Halo 4 being streamed to Windows Phone and PC at a private meeting, reportedly with only 45 ms of lag.

Dont get too excited, though. Microsoft Director of Product Albert Penello tells Polygon that, as of now, connection speeds generally just arent up to the task of handling lag-free streaming gameplay for titles running on remote servers.

"Its really cool and really problematic, all at the same time, insofar as its really super cool if you happen to have the worlds most awesome Internet connection, Penello said. "It was a grand experiment. I know we did a lot of work behind it, and we said this is one of the things where the network just has to get better before we can do it. When that happens, youre going to have a really interesting conversation around that: can I actually run Xbox One games that way as well?"

Indeed, when we tested the OnLive streaming PC game service back in 2010, we ran into latency, frame rate, and resolution issues even over a 20Mbps Fios connection. Outside analysis has suggested that connection speeds of 10-15 Mbps are needed to support high-quality streaming on more current cloud-based servers. With average connection speeds still hovering around 9Mbps in the US, though, were still a little ways off from the widespread capability to support quality streamed gameplay in this country (though maybe not as far as youd think).

Sony is arguably more bullish on cloud gaming than Microsoft, as evidenced by its $380 million purchase of streaming company Gaikai last year (Microsoft, meanwhile, seems to have scuttled a mulled purchase of OnLive back in the day). But despite a lot of hand-waving around promised features, there have been precious few details about how cloud gaming will make itself present on the PlayStation 4. All we know for sure is that it wont be available until 2014.

Still, both Sony and Microsoft seem to hope that the ability to play console games running on remote servers is not a matter of if, but of when. The answer to that question, both companies seem to agree, is not just yet, but maybe not too long from now.

Source: Ars Technica

Tags: computer games, Microsoft, Sony

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