As games get bigger and bigger, and my availability gets shorter and shorter, every opportunity to shave a bit of free time into my schedule is a welcome one. That’s why I’m intrigued by this latest addition to the Xbox Insider Program’s Alpha Ring.
Microsoft announced a while ago that it was going to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to Xbox consoles. Notably, games like Flight Simulator 2020 that require next-gen hardware simply cannot run on past-gen consoles. Microsoft is bridging the gap using the cloud, and increasingly, other companies are looking into the tech as well. Kingdom Hearts was announced for Nintendo Switch recently as a cloud-only option.
Cloud gaming makes a lot of sense on underpowered devices like the Nintendo Switch, tablets, and smartphones, but what about the Xbox Series X? Why would you want it on there? And does it even work?
Here are some early impressions with the feature, now in beta.
So, how is Xbox Cloud Gaming on console?
The performance of Xbox Cloud Gaming seems to be a pretty contentious topic, depending on who you ask. During the summer, Microsoft upgraded its server infrastructure to Xbox Series X-based server blades. What that means is NVMe SSD loading speeds, for faster game loads. It also means more overhead for encoding video, which leads to more responsive play. The previous blades were Xbox One-based, and thus, didn’t have a lot of horsepower to run the game and encode video streams simultaneously.
The Xbox Series X server blades have improved the situation immeasurably, but services like Google Stadia and GeForce Now still seem to provide better picture quality and lower amounts of artifacting, even if Xbox Cloud Gaming decided it has the edge when it comes to library quality and size. All services seem fairly evenly matched in terms of latency, although performance will vary depending on where you are geographically. No amount of fiber optic can offset the limitations of the speed of light, unfortunately.
Games that have a cloud option on the Xbox Alpha Ring now have a little cloud icon next to them, joining the Game Pass and X|S enhanced icons on their thumbnails. To find the entire library, you can dig into the Xbox Game Pass app or the Xbox Game Pass section from your Full Library under My Games & Apps, and there’s a new cloud section right up there at the top.
This content was originally published here.