Microsoft is getting into the streaming arena in October. Almost a year after announcing Project xCloud, the game streaming service will go into a public preview phase in the US, UK, and Korea in October.
No specific dates have been announced, but you can sign up for the US preview on the Xbox site, opting into the public phase. Invites to the xCloud service will then start rolling out "in the coming weeks," with no specific date set just yet. Microsoft says it expects demand to exceed capacity and that more invites will roll out over the course of the preview period.
Project xCloud's public test phase will start off with four games: Gears 5, Halo 5: Guardians, Killer Instinct, and Sea of Thieves. The library will grow over the course of the preview, and the upside is, you don't need to own any of the games to opt into it.
What you will need is a phone or tablet running Android 6.0 or higher, with Bluetooth 4.0. You'll also need a Microsoft account and a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One Wireless Controller, and Microsoft also recommends a phone mount.
The xCloud preview is expected to last "until customers are reporting a great, fun experience and technology meets our internal quality standards." So it's unclear when exactly this preview period will start or end, but it seems like a solid deal if you have a decent phone and have been wanting to see what a streaming future for gaming might look like firsthand.
When we saw xCloud firsthand at E3 2019, the results were pretty impressive, with Halo 5: Guardians running particularly well. Those were also under preset conditions though, and this preview period is likely intended to test some more outliers. While Microsoft told USgamer at E3 that it is continuing to investigate a solution for data-capped gamers, I wouldn't recommend going on your data plan trying to stream Gears 5 in the first place. Seems like a fast way to chew through both bytes and battery.
We'll learn more at X019, Microsoft's big event coming this November in London, where the hardware publisher has said it will discuss more news about xCloud. Meanwhile, if you're keeping up to date on what next-gen for Microsoft will look like, be sure to check out our guide to everything we know so far about Project Scarlett.