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Google Stadia works, but Microsoft's xCloud seems to be 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 to business the battle for dominance over cloud games is underway. But the restless implementation of Stadia seems to justify Microsoft's in-beta xCloud project as a cloud gaming service.

Cloud games – services that allow users to play games running on a remote server – ensure that wherever a player is found, he can stay in touch with the gaming platform of his choice. Sony was an early player with PlayStation Now in 2014, but Google was shocked when it announced Stadia at the developer conference in March. Microsoft followed this by announcing its cloud gaming service, Project xCloud, at E3 2019.

I spent time with all three services, and of the three, I was most excited about playing in the Microsoft cloud for one simple reason: it solves the real problem.

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Stadia on the big screen TV.

Sarah Tew / CNET

Lack of space is a problem that players have to deal with. The Xbox One console has a 500 GB or 1 TB hard drive, and large budget games such as Halo 5: Guardians can take 100 GB. Any game bought physically or digitally must be installed on the console's hard disk to play. For me it is a library of almost 200 games (and does not include another 200 available on the Xbox Game Pass). Thanks to unlimited space, Project xCloud allows me to access these games without installing them.

Instead of downloading a game that I would like to play capriciously, the Microsoft cloud streaming service allows me to play Xbox One games on my Galaxy S10 Plus with a Bluetooth controller for $ 25, which I bought over a year ago, all without any hassle as long as I use with fast Wi-Fi.

On the other hand, Stadia gives me no solution, only more problems. First of all, I already have a gaming computer with a Steam account that has access to a lot of games that I can play from the Valve streaming application, Steam Link. The addition of a new platform in Stadia means that I have another non-Steam digital store that requires a separate purchase (or buy back, for games I already own).

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Currently, Stadia requires additional equipment – Chromecast Ultra – to play on TV. Games are currently more expensive than on other platforms, and since I don't have a Pixel phone, my only portable option is a laptop. The current game list, with 22 games, accounts for less than half of what xCloud promises. Most new and currently popular games are also missing. Instead, Stadia offers older Tomb Raider and Destiny games.

Of these three services, Project xCloud was the one that just worked better in my practical tests. The stadium worked great when I tried the beta version last year, but I had noticeable delay jumps when I tried it recently. On the other hand, as long as I have good Wi-Fi, I haven't seen a long delay in Project xCloud.

Project xCloud already gives me something I need, and it's only in beta. Microsoft already has plans for more features and including it in the Xbox Games Pass. If there is a "Netflix for video games" service that has a chance to enter the mainstream, then Microsoft is almost there.


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