As readers will know, Microsoft acquired Beam, a company whose low-latency game streaming platform has since been integrated into Xbox and Windows 10 Insider preview builds and will get a full-scale rollout with the upcoming Windows 10 Creators update. Alpha Ring Xbox Insiders have had the feature for a bit, and Beta Ring users recently got the chance to try streaming from the comfort of their couches as well. But, Jez Corden of Windows Central makes an argument for Xbox as a streamed service. Here’s the idea, from the original piece:
“As global internet speeds increase, it seems logical that Beam could be the vehicle that Microsoft will use to provide personal gameplay streaming over the internet.
Many companies have tried (and arguably failed) to provide Netflix-like cloud-based game streaming service, where your games run remotely, uploading your inputs to the internet and giving you feedback via a video stream. While it might work well enough for turn-based games, the latency kills any games that run in real time.
Beam already has developer features that allows users to send inputs to games via buttons on its website, and the logical progression is that it will expand to full game controls in the future.”
Corden makes some good points, and I’d like to add onto his argument. In his piece, Corden also includes a video he shared on Twitter, embedded below, of him playing on his Xbox One (seen to the right) and watching the broadcast via Beam on a laptop (seen to the left). The demo exemplifie what Beam’s latency management can do, even on, as Corden put it, “fairly modest 40MB down, 6MB up internet.” I’d like to discuss one of the semi-flops he mentions as well, and compare it to what Microsoft may do with Xbox and Beam.
I just now realized, given Beam's RIDICULOUSLY low latency… this could provide the means to play Xbox remotely. <- Beam stream -> Xbox pic.twitter.com/l4YzLCps7I
— Jez 🎮 (@JezCorden) March 1, 2017
NVIDIA launched the Shield, later renamed the Shield Portable, in 2014 and also debuted a cloud game-streaming service it called “GeForce Now”. The gist of the service was, for a fee per-month, for users to stream full-fidelity PC games from its NVIDIA-powered GeForce cloud computing servers to the recipient’s Shield device. Having tried the service myself, it relied on two things: NVIDIA supporting the game, and a very decent Internet connection. Back in the day, I tested the service while it was in beta with Red Faction: Geurilla, and it worked with maybe a half-second of delay between input and video output.
What Microsoft did with the intial launch of Windows 10 with its Xbox app was slightly more in line with what Razer and NVIDIA did to allow streaming from a powerful device (an NVIDIA-powered PC and a PC with Razer’s Cortex software installed, for each respective example) and allow it to stream to a weaker device (any normal in-network PC and the Razer Forge TV, again respective to each example). Microsoft allowed Xbox One owners to stream their Xbox experience to their Windows 10 PC which helped less powerful PCs play full Xbox titles remotely. Later in his article, Corden mentions that in 2013 Microsoft showed off Halo 4 streaming and playable to a Lumia device, through the cloud. And with the recent announcement of Xbox Game Pass, essentially a “Netflix for Xbox games”, Microsoft looks to adopt a very cloud-friendly approach to getting players to their games.
While Beam has viewer controls for select games, they currently rely on developers buidling them into the game themselves, and the games that have buttons are not any games built on the Universal Windows Platform. Corden closes, writing that “it’s only a matter of time before we see this sort of feature arrive on Beam for Xbox One and Windows 10” and while I don’t disagree, I’m highly skeptical of the viability of this done through Beam rather than the existing Xbox app on every platform except macOS and Linux. So, should we hear any whispers of this or any other streaming feature, we’ll keep you updated. Until then, stay tuned to Rectify Gaming for the latest.
Source: Windows Central