For the last couple of days I’ve been trying out Microsoft’s Project xCloud game streaming service which is currently in preview. You can sign up to try it out yourself here. To get straight to it, the service has worked well for me. There have been some audio glitches, and in some situations - like scrolling around a world map, compression artifacts are very visible, but none of these issues have persisted. Input lag is almost invisible but I felt it whilst playing. I would say it felt like playing on a TV with game mode disabled. I had more trouble playing games due to the small screen of my phone (compared to the TV I usually play on) than due to the input lag. Here’s some background on the environment I’ve been testing with:
- Internet connection: consumer Virgin Media fibre. 200 Mbps down, 20 Mbps up.
- Router: Netgear XR500.
- Wi-Fi connection: 5GHz with WPA2 encryption.
- Device: Samsung Galaxy S10+
- During testing streamed a 720p 60fps video from YouTube on another device.
- Some Wi-Fi interference around me.
To set up xCloud as an existing Xbox user it was very straight forward. I downloaded the Xbox Game Streaming Preview app from the Google Play store and paired my bluetooth Xbox One controller to my phone. I opened the app, signed in with my account and opened Hitman (2016) from the provided library of games. It took about 30 seconds to start the stream, the game then loaded, my saves synced and I was continuing my progress in the game. Really cool and straightforward. Here’s video of my second session playing Forza Horizon 4.
Some background on me and my gaming preferences - I really don’t like input lag and so I prefer framerate over resolution or visual fidelity. I play on PC and Xbox One X. On the console I always set the game settings to performance over resolution when possible. I also have ‘game mode’ enabled on my TV to reduce the input lag. For my initial tests I played Hitman (2016) and Forza Horizon 4. FH4 I’ve only played on Xbox One X at high frame rate, and Hitman (2016) I’ve been playing through again recently on Xbox One X, again at high frame rate settings. Both of these games ran well and were very playable. As I mentioned above I did feel some minor input lag but it was consistent. I haven’t tested using 4G yet, but I will update this article when I have.