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The Xbox Service That Saved Game Development During The Pandemic

Upon its initial spread, the COVID-19 pandemic was incredibly harmful to nearly every industry, and the video game industry definitely felt its impacts. Its effects applied heavily to game development, which was aided by Microsoft xCloud Xbox game streaming, according to a Bloomberg report.


Initially, Microsoft's Project xCloud was intended to allow Xbox One and PC gamers to stream games on the go from their Android devices. This is enabled through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which costs subscribers $14.99 per month. 

While this was the original sole intention for Microsoft xCloud, Bloomberg reports that the service was also used during the coronavirus pandemic as a tool for game production for developers to create games safely from home. With social distancing becoming a priority for developers, remote development became the standard model, which was assisted by xCloud.

The Microsoft xCloud team optimized the streaming tool for developers ahead of the app's official September launch. Specifically, the team upped the resolution for developers using the app and enabled surround sound audio for game development.


Microsoft xCloud wasn't limited to game development either, as it was also used to help speed up the Xbox Series X and Series S's launch. "It enabled us to ship our console on time," xCloud principal software engineering manager Daniel Kenett stated to Bloomberg.

Almost 60 development studios used xCloud as a tool for production. In addition to using xCloud for game creation, communication platform Microsoft Teams became a tool for developers to congregate remotely and provide each other with updates on changes within development.

While xCloud has been very helpful for game developers, this isn't to say there aren't any remaining kinks. For instance, after the Forza series' absence during 2019, Microsoft announced Forza Motorsport for Xbox Series X and S in July. However, development has been slowed by the pandemic, which could signify delays down the road, even though the game has no specified release date.

Similar to Forza, Halo Infinite's development was affected by COVID-19 as well, leading to Halo Infinite's delay into 2021. This game's development has also been assisted by xCloud, meaning Halo Infinite may have faced further delays without the streaming tool's existence.

While the pandemic has negatively impacted game development, it has caused sales to boom. In March this year, sales experienced a 35% year-over-year increase at $1.6 billion in revenue, according to The Washington Post. Further, sales revenue for 2020 is expected to reach $159.3 billion in the gaming industry, which would be a 9.3% increase over 2019's gaming revenue.