Sources from inside Microsoft have reportedly pegged Rio as the name of the company’s upcoming streaming service. The news leaked following Microsoft’s annual company meeting, which took place last month.
During the meeting, David Treadwell, head of program management in Microsoft’s OS engineering group, demonstrated streaming Halo 4 onto both a Surface tablet and a Windows Phone. According to the source, this was achieved at “Xbox-level visual quality.”
While being able to stream current-gen titles to portable devices is certainly cool, the main benefit of Rio might be backwards compatibility. According to Microsoft blogger Paul Thurrott, the company might be able to use this technology to allow Xbox One owners to stream Xbox 360 games onto the system. Since the Xbox One currently cannot play 360 games, this would certainly be a benefit for gamers who still wish to spend time with popular titles such as Halo 4.
Rio appears to be the Microsoft flavored version of Sony’s Gaikai streaming service. As a gamer who still plans on playing current-gen titles even after the next-gen consoles come out, I’m delighted by these services. If companies are going to continue to release blockbuster titles such as Grand Theft Auto V and Batman: Arkham Origins only for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3’s of the world, then I should be able to play them on my shiny new systems.
Similar to my concerns about Gaikai though, I wonder how Rio will handle streaming games onto portable devices. Sources from the meeting claimed that the single-player portion of Halo 4 ran well enough, but didn’t run as smooth when they tried to test multiplayer on it. It’s certainly cool that I could possibly play Xbox 360 games on my phone, but I have no interest in it if the game is going to have terrible lag.
No release date has been decided for Rio yet, but I imagine it will be available at some point in 2014. As always, we will have more information on the technology as it becomes available.