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Microsoft’s streaming Xbox will split up games to keep latency low


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Microsoft’s streaming Xbox will split up games to keep latency low

"Last month, we learned that Microsoft is developing a pair of new Xboxes for release in 2020 under the codename Scarlett. One system will be a full console; the other will be a cloud-connected system for streaming games. Today, Brad Sams at Thurrott.com has more to say about that streaming box.

We know Microsoft has been interested in developing a streaming service for many years. At this year's E3, the company reaffirmed that it's working on a streaming service that will allow games to be run in the Azure cloud and streamed to a relatively simple set-top box. This makes the end-user hardware much cheaper, but it has a consistent problem: latency. Every button press on the controller has to travel over the Internet to the server before it can be processed, and every frame of video similarly has to make the reverse trip before it can be seen. For games that don't rely on twitch reactions (RPGs or turn-based games, say) this is no big deal. But for games like first-person shooters, it's a huge problem.

According to Sams, Microsoft's solution is that the Scarlett Cloud box (as one person called it) will have some amount of processing power of its own. Not enough to run full games, but enough to do collision detection, input handling, and some amount of graphical processing locally without having to wait for the remote server. To do this, games are split into two parts (referred to as "slices" or "splices")—one part runs in the cloud; the other runs on the console.

The result is that Scarlett Cloud is apparently suitable for a wide range of games, even those that would normally be considered too latency-sensitive to be streamable. In fact, Sams reports that every Scarlett game will run on every Scarlett device, so streaming gamers won't be left out.

The downside to this approach is that it makes the hardware more expensive than if it was purely a dumb streaming device, but it's still markedly less expensive than a full console would need to be. Streaming games will of course require some kind of a subscription to play. This recurring revenue is a big part of why the company is interested in streamed games in the first place."

 

I still believe that the internet is not read for the streaming of games:

1) Too many people don't have the bandwidth to stream high quality games

2)  Data caps are still too low for hard core gamers

3)  Not sure if internet connections are stable enough to reliably stream games.  I seem to get too many "hiccups" that are annoying on video, but would be disastrous for gaming.

 

However, all signs are pointing to the next generation starting no later than 2020.

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53 minutes ago, skillzdadirecta said:

To be fair, I stopped reading when he said he has AT&T Uverse... I used to work for a company that did all of their marketing.  Their internet is terrible especially for gaming.

I had AT&T Uverse at my previous apartment and it seemed better compared to Charter. I liked how you could fast forward movies on demand at faster speeds.

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i have u-verse fiber and it's fine... for the most part. The gigabit connection is more than enough and the ping is about 2 ms.

 

That said, there's a reason i pay out the ass for the gigabit, as their normal tiers were kinda shit.

 

PS Now works well enough over LAN, but i dont always want to be tethered and thewifi in the PS4 is spotty at best. Also the graphical fidelity takes a pretty big hit.

 

I cant see anyone paying for the proper bandwidth, but then cheaping out on a streaming box instead of a full fidelity console.

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3 minutes ago, XxEvil AshxX said:

i have u-verse fiber and it's fine... for the most part. The gigabit connection is more than enough and the ping is about 2 ms.

 

That said, there's a reason i pay out the ass for the gigabit, as their normal tiers were kinda shit.

i hate you.

 

not really, just envious of your 2ms ping.  my quickest ever is 21ms.

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I think the concept is cool.  Honestly I don't think many people on this forum would opt for the streaming box.  However what has me interested is being able to stream on any device.  If I could just pack a controller on business trips and play my console games in my hotel on my work laptop - that would be pretty damn cool.  Even if there was some reduced fidelity in the graphics etc.  

 

I think MS is aware of the situation with the internet in America.  If they think they can pull it off then I'll give them the benefit of the doubt and see what they produce.  If it sucks I won't buy it.

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3 hours ago, BuckFly said:

I pay for 50 download with Spectrum and I don't think I have ever had speeds quicker than 24.

If thats the case then you need to call charter and tell them exactly that. They will come out and fix it.  I'm currently at 200down  11up   with Charter and it's great   I get that and a phone line for 54bucks a month.  Cant complain about that at all  wish my upload was better but I'm not a streamer yet

 

uverse sucks they will never get my money again

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The bandwidth thing is hardly my biggest concern.  Microsoft needs to prove that a streaming box isn't garbage, by default.  Even local network streaming solutions aren't perfect today.  And there's inevitably going to be questions about the video quality (4k?) and consistency of the picture and/or input lag.

 

I mostly wonder what they'd charge for the real deal console.  I don't think $599 is out of the question, especially when the lower spec console could give them an excuse to aim higher.

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Yesterday my home internet was down for 5 hours.  I can't imagine this streaming box being viable with mobile internet, so I would have been screwed with the streaming console. 

 

Also from what I understand, you don't buy the games, you subscribe like Netflix? Cancel your subscription, and all you have is a lump of plastic. 

 

Not interested. 

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8 hours ago, JosephManderley said:

Yesterday my home internet was down for 5 hours.  I can't imagine this streaming box being viable with mobile internet, so I would have been screwed with the streaming console. 

 

Also from what I understand, you don't buy the games, you subscribe like Netflix? Cancel your subscription, and all you have is a lump of plastic. 

 

Not interested. 

I'm sure like game pass, there will be an option to buy your games.

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I imagine it would have to process more than just collision detection.  Enough game logic would need to run to also perform hit detection on moving characters, time sensitive state registrations, any dynamic simulation that impacts gameplay, and collision streaming (typically tied to the asset streaming in today’s game engines).  And even then bandwidth would be a limiting factor on the frame delivery.

 

I could see it working only if developers are willing to dedicate the resources to take a deep dive into their time sensitive engine code and section off what they can.  And even then, I’m sure there would still be limitations.

 

If this rumor is true, I would expect the next Xbox(s) to be the more difficult platform to develop for.  A bit of a role reversal coming off the X and the Pro.   Much bigger gamble too between their servers, internet speeds, and the onus on developers.

 

I guess they could make that streaming box powerful enough to run all the game logic and just have their farm draw the frame.  That would be a lot more realistic than banking on developers to optimize for their streaming tech.

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1 hour ago, skillzdadirecta said:

I'm sure like game pass, there will be an option to buy your games.

There is likely to be a mandatory subscription, that will include a number of games, similar to gamepass.  I would be surprised if they would even stream "purchased games" without a subscription.

 

But, I suspect you are correct in that you will need to "buy games" as well -- I would be surprised if EA/Activision/Ubi/etc. would be willing to include their new releases as part of a MS subscription.

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1 minute ago, mikechorney said:

There is likely to be a mandatory subscription, that will include a number of games, similar to gamepass.  I would be surprised if they would even stream "purchased games" without a subscription.

 

But, I suspect you are correct in that you will need to "buy games" as well -- I would be surprised if EA/Activision/Ubi/etc. would be willing to include their new releases as part of a MS subscription.

Why would there be a mandatory subscription? You're thinking like an MS version of Playstation Now?

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52 minutes ago, mikechorney said:

Yes.  I think that is what this what this would essentially be -- except it would have options for access to all/most new releases.


I also think a streaming box like this may require a GamesPass (+ XBL?) subscription, but going that far with releases is a pipe dream.

 

It's much more likely we'd see a different additive or individual package for each major publisher.  They won't want to let that money sit on the table.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, crispy4000 said:

 


I also think a streaming box like this may require a GamesPass (+ XBL?) subscription, but going that far with releases is a pipe dream.

 

It's much more likely we'd see a different additive or individual package for each major publisher.  They won't want to let that money sit on the table.

 

 

 

Agreed.  I think it is most likely that you will need to buy individual games that you can use with your streaming package, rather than publisher specific "all you can eat" packages.

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28 minutes ago, mikechorney said:

Agreed.  I think it is most likely that you will need to buy individual games that you can use with your streaming package, rather than publisher specific "all you can eat" packages.

 

Actually, I think we've already seen publishers gearing up for future "all you can eat" packages.  EA will inevitably be on that from the very start, especially when they just added a higher subscription tier to Origin Access on PC.

 

I imagine we'll see Ubisoft follow suit next.  It's a perfect fit for the GaaS model they adore.

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2 minutes ago, crispy4000 said:

 

Actually, I think we've already seen publishers gearing up for future "all you can eat" packages.  EA will inevitably be on that from the very start, especially when they just added a higher subscription tier to Origin Access on PC.

 

I imagine we'll see Ubisoft follow suit next.  It's a perfect fit for the GaaS model they adore.

Yes.  But they won't want to do that through Microsoft.  The publishers will want to own the streaming platform.  Why give 30% to MS if you can own it all?

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11 minutes ago, mikechorney said:

Yes.  But they won't want to do that through Microsoft.  The publishers will want to own the streaming platform.  Why give 30% to MS if you can own it all? 

 

Details and deals are probably being worked out now.  Microsoft will probably use their cloud servers as a bargaining chip, especially for the low end console.  Or they might straight up require their use, which could ruffle some feathers.

We could see things like EA Access (Premier?) pop as independent channels, or be layered on top of GamesPass for an additional fee.  Either way, publishers would be charging their own fees.

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