Project xCloud public preview tests begin in October, starting in the U.S., UK, and South Korea

Jovitec Xbox One Foldable Controller Clip
Jovitec Xbox One Foldable Controller Clip (Image credit: Matt Brown / Windows Central)

Today on Xbox Wire, Microsoft revealed the first hard information about the long-awaited Project xCloud game streaming tests, set to begin sometime in October.

Gamers in the United States, United Kingdom, and South Korea will be the first able to sign up and participate in the test, which you can do over here. It sounds as though this preview program is relatively far from being a full product, with limited access, features, and content, as Microsoft commits itself to testing and harvesting data and feedback before the global launch. Microsoft is also not prepared to talk business just yet, declining to explain how Project xCloud cloud game streaming will be monetized, although it's fair to assume it'll be some sort of subscription service, possibly tied to Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass.

Related: Sign up for Project xCloud here

Xbox CVP Kareem Choudhry described Microsoft's ambitions with xCloud in a blog post, emphasizing that this phase of the rollout is all about user feedback.

Since announcing Project xCloud just under a year ago, we've been on a journey to create, develop, and prepare the technology for gamers. A big step for us was opening up the program to Microsoft employees – since then I've enjoyed seeing people's excitement and hearing the stories of how they play. At home, I've been using Project xCloud to play Sea of Thieves with my kids while they're playing on the console and PC. Around the office, I've seen our team having an amazing time playing Halo 5: Guardians tournaments and Gears 5 campaign on nothing more than a phone or tablet. We saw the same joy of gaming as we shared the experience with fans at E3 and gamescom, and now we're ready for what's next.Today we're inviting the community to take the next step with us and join the Project xCloud (Preview), coming this October to the United States, United Kingdom and Korea. Public preview is a critical phase in our multi-year ambition to deliver game streaming globally at the scale and quality of experience that the gaming community deserves and expects. It's time to put Project xCloud to the test in a broader capacity, with a range of gamers, devices, network environments and real- world use-case scenarios, and this is where you come in. At Xbox, we've made it a priority to engage with all of you to help in the creation process. We now want you to play with us and share your feedback on Project xCloud so we can iterate and improve, week after week. Join us, have fun playing, share your stories and feedback, and be part of the journey.

US and UK users can sign up over here. South Korean users need to sign up over here, with invites to both rolling out in the coming weeks. Since Microsoft is seeking to work closely with ISPs for optimization, SK Telecom is the exclusive carrier for Project xCloud in South Korea to start with. Microsoft is working more closely with Vodafone in the UK and T-Mobile in the U.S. for optimized streaming experiences. Any carrier or ISP in the U.S. or UK will work, however.

Only Android 6.0 and above users will be eligible initially, with a Bluetooth 4.0 or higher handset. A Microsoft Account and a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One controller are also required, which sounds as though the touch controls aren't yet ready for public preview. Microsoft also recommends a controller phone mount, like these.

Initially, only Gears 5, Killer Instinct, Sea of Thieves, and Halo 5: Guardians will be available, with more games rolling out over time. You won't need to buy any of the games, nor subscribe to any service during the preview phase. Microsoft is opening up testing to a "small" amount of users initially, with more being invited in the coming weeks as they test server stability. There will be a specific app to download for xCloud, dubbed "Microsoft Game Streaming" for Android, which will be available to those invited to the test.

Whether or not Project xCloud actually works at scale remains to be seen, but my impressions from E3 2019 were fraught with excitement over the possibilities of this nascent tech. The wait is nearly over.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!