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Report: Microsoft Tempers Expectations For Xbox 360 Games Streaming To Xbox One

by Mike Futter on Nov 11, 2013 at 01:40 AM

In the ongoing game of PlayStation 4 and Xbox One comparisons, there have been a number of shots fired from both sides. One major post-launch feature coming from Sony, the ability to stream games via the Gaikai service. Many have wondered if Microsoft would leverage its vaunted Azure cloud to mirror that option for the Xbox back catalog. Right now, the answer isn't hopeful.

Speaking with Polygon, Microsoft senior director of product management and planning at Xbox Albert Penello explained that cloud-streaming is unreliable as a mechanism to deliver the experience that players expect. Penello explains that a top-tier internet connection would be necessary (no specific upload or download speeds were discussed). "So managing quality of service, the tolerance people will have for it being crappy," Penello says. "Can you imagine, in this day and age, with the bad information around, and we can't control the quality of that experience and make sure it's good, or have to tell people they can't do it?"

Much of the speculation about Microsoft matching Sony's intentions comes from a demo of Halo 4 streaming to PC and Windows Phone shown at a company meeting. This was only a demonstration, and Penello suggests that the network simply needs to be better before options like this become viable. For more on Xbox One, check out our preview of the user interface and a rundown of six interesting things we learned while using it.

[Source: Polygon]

Our Take
I've been both hopeful and skeptical of game streaming promises since the PlayStation 4 reveal. I used OnLive and was thoroughly disappointed by the unreliable video quality and input lag. Think about watching a streaming movie on a shaky connection. The resolution fluxuates between crystal clear and blurry. That's what my experience was like playing games over the cloud.

I think that Microsoft, which has had major messaging problems early in the Xbox One pre-launch cycle, is making the right call here. Penello's comment about not being able to control the quality of the experience or, worse, telling people that they simply can't use the feature is smart. Especially after former Xbox chief Don Mattrick's blunt, impolitic comments about not being able to take advantage of Xbox One, Microsoft needs communication (and decisions) like this to continue to right the ship.