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Microsoft to expand xCloud beta to Western Europe

After launching in the UK, US and South Korea, Microsoft has decided to rollout its services in an additional eleven markets.

Gaming has always been a staple in the Microsoft diet, thanks to Xbox and Game Studios in bygone years, but cloud gaming offers an opportunity to dramatically scale the business unit. This is a market development which could potentially lower the barrier of entry for consumers, as cloud services are less reliant on extortionately expensive consoles and upgrades. The rewards could be an expanded userbase and new revenues.

But Microsoft is not alone in pursuit of gaming fortunes. Google and Nvidia have their own platforms to challenge for the throne, while Sony and Nintendo lead numerous other firms chasing down the leaders. If Microsoft is to create a leadership position, it will have to be aggressive in its development and rollout of services.

The new markets for the beta are Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain and Sweden.

“Bringing the Project xCloud preview to gamers across Western Europe is a top priority for us,” said Catherine Gluckstein, GM for Project xCloud. “We know gaming is an important way for people to remain connected, particularly during these times of social distancing, but we also recognize how internet bandwidth has been impacted with strain on regional networks as large volumes of people responsibly stay home and go online.”

While it will not present as much of a problem for the network as popular streaming services, Gluckstein is right in that the team will have to be careful to ensure it is not placing undue strain on the networks. In Italy, Telecom Italia CEO Luigi Gubitosi partly attributed a 70% surge in traffic at the beginning of the Italian lockdown on gaming titles Fortnight and Call of Duty, where the online features are incredibly popular.

Although it is far too early to decide on who is winning the cloud gaming segment, consumer entertainment is an important area for Microsoft. Revenues across the last quarter declined for Xbox, though this was expected as a new console is ready to launch, but the team boasted of a new record for Xbox Live monthly active users and Xbox Game Pass subscribers more than doubled.

Recurring revenue is the Golden Goose for the digital economy and cloud gaming could be one of the more fruitful coops.

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