Opinion | Almost 1.5 percent of the entire world was on Xbox Live last quarter, thanks to COVID-19: Will Project xCloud and PS Now make the PS5 and Xbox Series X redundant in a post-COVID world?
During the call on Microsoft's Q3 2020 earnings, Satya Nadella stated that Xbox Game Pass now has over 10 million users. Moreover, Xbox Live currently has a staggering 90 million monthly active users-nearly 1.5 percent of the world population. Nadella also said that "hundreds of thousands of users" were taking part in the Project xCloud preview.
These record user engagement numbers are in large part due to COVID-19 and national lockdowns enforced across the world. Two years ago, Nadella claimed that his goal was to make Xbox Game Pass the "Netflix" of gaming. The service hosts a wide range of first-party and third-party AAA titles. Industry big-hitter Red Dead Redemption 2 is set to arrive next month.
Over the past few years, companies as disparate as Sony, Google, and Microsoft have been increasingly turning towards games-as-a-service and cloud-based gaming platforms. Cloud gaming has long been pointed to as the "future." However, between infrastructure and technology concerns, a mature solution has yet to arrive (discounting the trainwreck that is Google Stadia).
The Playstation 5 and Xbox Series X are set to arrive later this year. They'll undoubtedly enable a whole host of new experiences. However, mandatory social distancing appears to be acting as a catalyst for efforts in the online and cloud gaming spaces, though.
In the years to come, as we grapple with the long-term implications of social distancing, it would be interesting to see if xCloud and PS Now live up to their expectations (and development budgets). Will xCloud and PS Now eventually replace the consoles? Almost certainly. Will it happen sooner thanks to COVID-19? Only time will tell.