The idea of using the cloud to calculate more processor-intensive calcuations is one that Microsoft has been dabbling with for more than a decade now, with the company famously promising to implement it in Xbox One games.
The most notable example of its actual use in an Xbox game to date was the Wrecking Zone multiplayer mode in Crackdown 3, which used cloud-based processing to run the game’s destruction model and sync it across all players’ games.
However, unredacted court documents published overnight – seemingly in error – included an internal Microsoft plan featuring early details of its next-gen console, and cloud processing appears to be a main focus again.
The document lists the innovations introduced for each generation of Xbox, including Xbox Live for the original console, a digital store and Kinect for Xbox 360, Game Pass for Xbox One and Project xCloud for Xbox Series X/S.
Under the next-gen console, the document says the main innovations will be “cloud hybrid games” and an “immersive game and app platform”.
Another page in the document lists early ideas for the potential shape of next-gen gaming, including such topics as machine learning, AI and scalable hardware architecture. One of the topics proposed is “cloud native / enhanced” games.
Microsoft’s vision, according to the document, is to “develop a next generation hybrid game platform capable of levaraging the combined power of the client and cloud to deliver deeper immersion and entirely new classes of game experiences.”
It adds: “Optimised for real-time gameplay and creators, we will enable new levels of performance beyond the capabilities of the client hardware alone.”
Last year Xbox Game Studios Publishing announced that it was launching a new “cloud gaming organisation”, led by cloud gaming director Kim Swift (who rose to prominence as the project lead and designer of Valve‘s Portal).
The division’s mandate is to work on ‘cloud native’ games, which use the cloud to process certain parts of the game, such as physics, lighting, environments or AI.
Microsoft seemingly plans to release the next-gen console at the end of 2028, and according to its roadmap it should have been in the process of early hardware design and game pre-production this year.