While E3 2019 may have seen Project xCloud and Google Stadia grab the headlines with their attempts at game streaming, and more recently, rumours of Reliance Jio entering the space as well, there appears to be one industry executive who is firmly grounded on the adoption of game streaming — Xbox boss Phil Spencer. In an interview with Gamespot, he stated that mainstream adoption of game streaming would take longer than some anticipate.
“I think this is years away from being a mainstream way people play,” he told GameSpot. “And I mean years, like years and years.”
He then pointed to the time taken by Netflix to make strides versus conventional TV viewing methods.
“Let’s take Netflix, which is 20 years old,” he said. “I think we forget that sometimes because tech moves so fast. It’s 20 years old at this point, so it took two decades for us to get to the point where shows like Game of Thrones and House of Cards are some of the biggest shows [on] the planet and mainly watched via streaming. I think game streaming will get there faster than 20 years, but it’s not going to be two years. This is a technological change. While it seems like it happens overnight, it doesn’t.”
Furthermore, he believes, consoles aren’t going away. Project xCloud exists to give gamers choice in the near term.
“We are looking at the phone in your pocket as the destination for you to stream,” he said, “and the console that we have allows you to play the games locally.”
Interestingly, this is at odds with his previous statements on the matter. In the past, Phil Spencer has gone as far to suggest that the console business hasn’t been as profitable as Microsoft would have liked it to be.
“That is not where you make money,” Phil Spencer said in a recent interview regarding the console business. “The business inside of games is really selling games, and selling access to games and content in means like that is the fundamental business. So if you open it up, the more often people can play, the more they’re enjoying the art form. It increases the size of the business.”
Microsoft estimates that there are two billion gamers in the world with many living where console gaming isn’t feasible.
“We know we aren’t going to sell two billion consoles, and there are a lot of markets around the world where a console is not necessarily part of the lifestyle,” said Kareem Choudhry, Corporate Vice President of Gaming Cloud for Microsoft in the same interview.
All of this makes Spencer’s current statement on xCloud one of appeasement, possible to keep the core Xbox audience from flocking to rival consoles whose messaging has been laser-focussed on gaming rather than the method of access.
Furthermore, it’s amusing that Microsft’s views on xCloud and its use case essentially amount to labelling consoles pointless for developing markets when the reality is that the company failed the same markets where others are succeeding.