Call it an early Christmas present from Xbox Australia: Aussie Xbox gamers now have locally hosted servers for a small selection of multiplayer games.
According to Xbox Australia, local servers were "one of the most sought after features" by local gamers. It's the latest of nearly 100 updates that have been made to the Xbox One in the past 12 months.
In a media statement, Jeremy Hinton, business group lead for interactive entertainment at Microsoft Australia, said:
It has been a very exciting year for both Xbox and the industry. We set out to deliver amazing experiences on the Xbox One platform, and are humbled by the support and positive response from Aussie gamers to the updates over the past 12 months. Today's announcement of Australian-based Xbox Live servers addresses the most requested feature from local gamers.
The new servers are part of the recently opened Australian Microsoft Azure services. This means that the current lineup of games supported by the local servers is a little on the small side, with Forza Motorsport 5, Forza Horizon 2, and Halo: The Master Chief Collection the only titles Xbox Australia mentioned by name. These games will automatically use the local servers without any need for an update.
An Xbox Australia spokesperson said that there was no formal roadmap for what other titles may get the local server support, nor a timeline -- it will be done on a "title-by-title basis".
However Microsoft has bigger plans for the Azure services and Xbox. The servers form the backbone of an additional raft of cloud-based gaming services, where certain processes are handled by the cloud, leaving the physical console with a reduced local processing load.
Back in May 2013,, Hinton was already hyping the promise of Xbox's cloud processing saying:
[...] cloud-based processing for gameplay or enemy AI are available to the creators to use if they want. It's a powerful feature -- for every Xbox One in a lounge room, you have the processing power of three more available in the cloud. The cloud processing absolutely future proofs the device. Whatever ships today is always improved by the additional processing of the cloud. Games can only get better.