In gaming industry news this week, Microsoft looks like the early winner in cloud gaming, Amazon looks to join the game streaming fray too, and Valve reemerges with news of a Half-Life game in VR, coming soon.
Microsoft announces launch date, additional information for Project xCloud following the launch of Google Stadia
During X019, Microsoft’s corporate VP Kareem Choudhry released more details about the company’s game streaming service, Project xCloud, ahead of launch. Coming to the US in 2020, xCloud will be compatible with Android devices upon launch, with support for iOS, Windows 10, and international markets coming later. Press were quick to compare xCloud with Google’s newly-launched Stadia, with consensus being Stadia does not live up to expectations. The Verge, Windows Central, and CNET listed price, compatibility, features, and a small games library as pain points for Stadia. xCloud, on the other hand, will launch with access to Xbox Game Pass’ library of hundreds of titles, compatibility with Sony and Razer controllers, and will not need any additional hardware. CNET said, “Project xCloud already gives me something I need and it’s only in beta…If there is a ‘Netflix for video games’ service that has a shot at going mainstream, it’s Microsoft that’s almost there.”
Amazon to enter the game streaming market as soon as next year
According to The Verge, PC Gamer, and Comicbook.com, Amazon will soon be joining the competitive cloud gaming market with its own streaming service next year. New job postings for an “AWS Gaming Initiative” and engineers that would work on “cloud games” recently surfaced online, prompting press to speculate that Amazon could launch the service in time for Xbox Scarlett and PlayStation 5. While the outlets note that it makes sense for Amazon to launch a streaming service due to its ownership of Twitch, Forbes wasn’t convinced. It said, “I have no reason to expect an Amazon game streaming service would make any more of an impact than Stadia seems to be at the moment, short of some sort of massive shift in the model that unveils a huge catalog of games offered as part of a low cost subscription…Good luck Amazon, you’ll need it.’
Valve bringing popular Half-Life series to VR with new game, Half-Life: Alyx
After more than 12 years, Valve announced a new game in the beloved Half-Life universe this week, though to mixed sentiment and reaction from press and fans. Half-Life: Alyx is a VR game coming in 2020, and is set to be a prequel to the games already released in the series. Forbes wrote, “It’s Valve’s first (of three) AAA VR games and I find the news so, so very depressing,” echoing fan sentiment that the project isn’t the Half-Life 3 fans wanted and were expecting. Other outlets like PC Gamer and The Verge honed in on the VR aspect and wrote, “It’s about time VR had a system-selling game”, while Quartz commended Valve’s decision to release the game on a variety of difference VR devices instead of exclusively on its own VR headset.