A world where we play all of our games via cloud-based streaming services might be some way off yet, but there's no denying that the technology is maturing all of the time, which is why we're seeing Sony, Microsoft and Google all investing heavily in this area of gaming.
Microsoft, as we all know, is working on its Project xCloud service, which is currently in its preview stage and allows players to stream games to compatible Android-based phones and tablets. Google launched Stadia recently, which has struggled to gain much in the way of traction with core players. Sony, on the other hand, has been working away at its publically-available PlayStation Now service for quite some time, and has confirmed that it now has 2.2 million subs – not bad going when you consider it had less than half that number a year ago.
But where does that leave Microsoft's streaming service? Because xCloud isn't quite ready for public consumption just yet, it's hard to get solid figures on the number of people who have signed up. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella claimed in April of this year that it has "hundreds of thousands of users in preview across seven countries, with eight more launching in the coming weeks," which naturally puts the service in the shade when compared to Sony's offering.
However, because it's still in the preview phase, comparing the two isn't exactly fair – and it's worth noting that Microsoft's Game Pass has 10 million subscribers. It has already been confirmed that xCloud is coming to Game Pass later this year, which means that xCloud will, on paper at least, dwarf Sony's offering. But how many of those subscribers will make use of the feature remains to be seen – and for that reason, it's hard to really compare figures between the two.
Given Microsoft's expertise in this area – expertise that Sony is relying on for its own cloud-based gaming services, lest we forget – could we see xCloud become the defacto standard in console-based cloud gaming over the next year? Or will Sony's larger share of the market make all of the difference here? Let us know with a comment below.