Back in 2013, Microsoft made a peculiar declaration that the Xbox One wouldn’t be like other consoles that showed their age in the dying days of their life cycle. Instead, the new console would become more powerful with cloud computing. Since then, there haven’t been many examples of games showing it off and most people still don’t exactly know why or how it will improve the console. While there’s no software that fully takes advantage of the feature currently in consumers’ hands, there’s still plenty of reason to be excited about the technology that will change gaming forever.
The best example of cloud computing on the Xbox One is featured in the upcoming game, Crackdown 3. Making its visual debut at Gamescom 2015, the developers showed how an entire environment could be demolished in a multiplayer setting. Seems simple enough on the surface with how powerful the console is, but not even the newest-built PC could handle all the processing required to do this.
This is where cloud computing comes in. It gives the Xbox One hidden processing power by using servers in the cloud to store the destruction. For years, multiplayer games have ran by declaring one console the host while other units would feed off of it, but these matches have always been held back because there’s only so much information that can be shared. Cloud servers create more room for the game’s multiplayer matches to feature full-scale destruction that won’t disappear.
Dave Tach of Polygon describes how the additional servers made Crackdown 3 a thrilling experience:
“When the server’s horizontal bar maxed out, it added another, represented by a progress bar beneath it. And another. And another. The game didn’t so much as hitch as the buildings fell and more and more servers made it happen.”
Unfortunately, there’s nothing currently available to consumers that clearly shows how amazing using cloud servers can be. Titanfall does have its multiplayer universe built using them and it creates more room for physics and artificial intelligence. Still, the game’s multiplayer mode still behaves like a traditional one. There isn’t anything that truly shows the power of cloud servers. Crackdown 3′s ability to have multiple players destroying the entire environment could finally be the software that changes that when it’s released to the public.
Will the additional cloud servers make the Xbox One the only console you’ll need for decades? Not necessarily. Games will continue to require better graphics cards and more processing speed, and that will have to be upgraded. There will still be a need for new consoles, or slightly upgraded models that the current generation will be releasing soon. They also won’t wow consumers like a decked-out PC rig with the latest technology.
People who have never heard of cloud servers probably won’t be any the more wiser after playing through Crackdown 3, simply thinking that it’s just how powerful the Xbox One is. However, as more developers take advantage of them, the longer the console’s shelf life will be.