Microsoft are pushing ahead with their plans to expand the preview version of Project xCloud, announcing the next 11 countries that will be inducted into the programme and opening up sign ups to Android users in those countries. However, there’s question marks that hang over the announcement, thanks to – you guessed it – that darned Covid-19 coronavirus.
Those 11 countries are:
All 11 are in Western Europe, where internet access should be strong, even during these trying times. However, we’ve seen a number of data-heavy companies, such as streaming services Netflix, Amazon Prime and YouTube, as well as the PlayStation Network all comply with requests from the EU to reduce bandwidth consumption by reducing data rates.
Though Microsoft haven’t announced any special measures to deal with the situation, simply stating that they’re monitoring network usage, they do note that this could induce extra load on local networks, and so they’re going to take their time to open up the preview to each country.
Catherine Gluckstein, GM & Head of Product for Project xCloud explained, “We know gaming is an important way for people to remain connected, particularly during these times of social distancing, but we also recognize how internet bandwidth has been impacted with strain on regional networks as large volumes of people responsibly stay home and go online.”
To that end, they’ll be opening the preview in each country with a limited number of people and adding more over time.
However, it is worth noting that xCloud’s impact per user should be significantly lower than that of Google Stadia or GeForce Now. Project xCloud is streamed at 720p60 using base Xbox One S hardware in their server farms. This compares to 1080p or even 4K, which would obviously have higher bandwidth demands.
For those interested in joining the Project xCloud preview, you can head to www.xbox.com/projectxcloud and register right now. Then just twiddle your thumbs at home and hope you get an email with instructions for the next step. Maybe read our hands on impressions to pass some of the time?
You will need to have an Android phone or tablet in order to participate, with testing on iPhone restricted to Apple’s Testflight programme, which limits the rollout to 10,000 users in total. While Microsoft have opened up testing on iOS, you only have access to a single game – Halo: The Master Chief Collection – compared to the over 50 available to Android users. Reportedly, Apple’s App Store policies are holding up xCloud as well as rivals Stadia and GeForce Now.