Microsoft is partnering up with SK Telecom to deliver its xCloud game streaming service over 5G in South Korea. The software giant is planning to start public previews of Project xCloud next month, and SK Telecom is now an “exclusive operating partner” of Microsoft’s cloud gaming service in Korea. 5G is a natural fit for services like xCloud, and once networks roll out worldwide with mmWave we should start to see some of the promises of latency reduction that will benefit cloud gaming services.
Some SK Telecom customers will be able to try out xCloud game streaming next month, over both LTE and 5G networks. Microsoft is currently focusing on trialing phone-based versions of xCloud in October, but the company has not yet revealed exact preview plans. Microsoft could detail more of its xCloud efforts at the company’s Surface hardware event in New York City on October 2nd.
Either way, Microsoft’s partnership here is interesting and it could hint at further carrier exclusives for xCloud in the future. Microsoft is looking to optimize its datacenters, networks, and overall service across a variety of networks, and by partnering with specific carriers it will be able to do that more closely while carriers get yet another way to entice customers from rivals. It would be surprising to see Microsoft opt for an exclusive deal with AT&T or Verizon in the US, but it clearly makes sense for the company in markets like Korea.