Filed Under PS4 & Xbox

Microsoft’s next Xbox console could leverage cloud technology to gain the upper hand over Sony, a report published Wednesday claims. Brad Sams, who previously reported that the upcoming “Scarlett” machine would launch in 2020, claims that the diminishing returns from more powerful hardware will push the two companies to find other ways to differentiate themselves, leading to a new tech race no longer governed by flashy specs and high resolutions.

“Hardware differentiator, I think in the next gen, isn’t going to be as big of a deal as the previous gen,” Sams said, explaining how Microsoft and Sony are both likely to offer 4K resolution gaming at a smooth 60 frames per second, but consumers are unlikely to spot the difference with even higher pixel counts or framerates. This will mean offering alternative benefits, like services, price points and cloud technology. In the case of the latter, Microsoft plans to offer Netflix-like game streaming for more casual players and cloud-based processing to enhance high-end games.

See more: Microsoft xCloud Game Streaming Gives Tantalizing Glimpse of Xbox Scarlett

Microsoft announced its game streaming service in October, Project xCloud, which will leverage its 54 Azure cloud service regions to offer a variety of games without the need for downloads, running over a connection of just 10 megabits per second. The service acts as a competitor to PlayStation Now, which offers access to hundreds of PS4, PS3 and PS2 games for $19.99 per month, and xCloud is expected to start public trials in 2019. Sams previously claimed that Microsoft will offer a streaming-only “Scarlett” box for around $100, saving hundreds of dollars upfront for more casual players that are less concerned about pixel-perfect performance.

What’s also interesting is how cloud technology will benefit more dedicated players, what Sams describes as “one of [Microsoft’s] biggest unique assets.” Sams cites the example of Crackdown 3, an Xbox One game scheduled for launch in February 2019, that uses the cloud to calculate destructible city scenes during multiplayer games. It’s the kind of differentiator that could help set it apart from Sony, but it’s been a long time coming — Xbox One director of development Boyd Multerer detailed this functionality at the console’s 2013 launch, describing an “ever-evolving, powerful world” that moves away from the “static” console specs of before.

Microsoft could be well placed to use its experience with cloud computing to beat the next PlayStation. New consoles are expected soon, with Kenichiro Yoshida, president of Sony, calling for “next-generation hardware” in an October interview.

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Photos via Microsoft