June 9, 2019 / 10:02 PM / 3 months ago

Microsoft unveils next-gen 'Project Scarlett' Xbox console for release in 2020

(Reuters) - Microsoft Corp on Sunday unveiled its next-generation Xbox console, known as “Project Scarlett,” which is set to hit store shelves during the 2020 holiday season.

The device will be four times more powerful than the Xbox One X console and be powered by an Advanced Micro Devices chip, the company said during its Xbox E3 conference in Los Angeles.

The console will show up to 120 frames per second, or twice the average TV, and include a solid-state drive, Microsoft said, allowing games to load much faster than on its older mechanical hard drives.

The latest version of Microsoft’s popular “Halo” videogame will be launched along with the new console.

Rival Sony Corp has also revealed plans of its next-generation PlayStation 5 console, with similar specifications including an AMD chip, but no official release date has been announced. Analysts expect a late 2020 release.

Microsoft said its game-streaming service “Project xCloud” will go into preview in October. Rival Alphabet Inc’s Google on Thursday started taking pre-orders for its Stadia game-streaming service which will launch in November.

A new feature will allow users to stream games directly from their own Xbox console, instead of Microsoft’s servers, the company said.

“Two months ago we connected all Xbox developers to Project xCloud,” Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s executive vice president for gaming, said. “Now, the console streaming service will “turn your Xbox One into your own personal and free xCloud server.”

“Whether you’re using a console in our data centre or your console at home, this October you’ll be able to use our hybrid gaming cloud to play your games wherever you go. Where you play is now entirely your choice,” Spencer said.

The company announced “Project xCloud” last October saying it was testing a new game streaming service designed to work across PCs, consoles and mobile devices.

Since then, Microsoft has revealed that the service uses hardware similar to that in its existing Xbox One gaming consoles.

FILE PHOTO: A Microsoft logo is seen next to a cloud in Los Angeles, California, U.S. on June 14, 2016. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson/File Photo

“That means an existing library of more than 3,500 games will work on the service without any changes or modifications required by the developer,” Microsoft said in a blog post in May.

Analysts have said Microsoft is better positioned than most to capitalise on cloud gaming, citing its strength in infrastructure, content it owns, and experience in gaming.

Several technology companies are looking to boost services revenue through games streaming, including Nvidia Corp, Sony and Electronic Arts while Amazon.com Inc is reportedly working on its own service as well.

Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard Chang

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