How gaming on Microsoft xCloud compares to Google Stadia

Cloud gaming is one of the big topics of excitement ahead of E3. The market is very niche but the technology feels exciting, allowing users to play graphically-complex titles on a bunch of low-powered devices thanks to server farms and fast internet connections.
We had a chance to go hands-on with Google’s Stadia platform at GDC and I/O, now at E3, Microsoft is letting the media test out their previously-announced service xCloud. I’ve spent a bit of time with both, so how do they compare?
The biggest difference is that we still know bizarrely little about xCloud, while many expected the service to be the main topic of discussion at the Xbox E3 event, the service was mentioned for mere seconds as execs focused their energies on Xbox Game Pass and the upcoming Project Scarlett hardware.
Pricing, exact release dates, device support and internet requirements of xCloud are all up in air. We know it’s coming later this year for public use just as Stadia is. There are a lot of question marks, but here’s what we were working with in our demo of server-based gaming on xCloud.
Much like Stadia, xCloud is a streaming service that abides by the laws of nature, like speed of light, so latency is a thing. On the topic of lag — which is one of the big viability questions with these platforms — it seems like Microsoft’s solution is in lockstep with Google Stadia. The naked eye can only detect so much especially in a demo environment where the environment is set up to be perfect, but streaming in LA from servers based in the Bay Area didn’t cause any major problems as I demoed a couple titles briefly.

Microsoft’s Project xCloud preview launches in October
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