Microsoft plans to launch its free streaming game service, currently known as Project xCloud, to its paying Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in September. With the xCloud service, Xbox players can play games on mobile devices or even launch a game on their consoles and resume it on their phone or tablet. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate combines Xbox Live access, an Xbox Game Pass subscription and, as of September, streaming of xCloud games into a single $ 14.99 monthly subscription.
Microsoft promises that more than 100 Xbox Game Pass titles will be available to play on a phone or tablet when the streaming service launches. However, Microsoft does not specify which countries are supported at launch yet. The company has expanded its Azure data centers across the United States and parts of Europe with Xbox One S blades to stream Xbox games through xCloud. Microsoft will upgrade these servers to Xbox Series X Hardware 21
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is the only way to access xCloud streaming at launch, but it will not always be limited to Microsoft’s top subscription level.
“Over time, we will continue to expand how we introduce streaming as part of the platform, and play games that you own that are not part of the subscription,” said Microsoft’s Xbox CEO Phil Spencer in an interview with The limit. “For launch, we add it to Ultimate at no extra cost. We think it’s a good audience for us to begin with, and it’s an audience that plays a lot of games. “
While anyone accessing xCloud game streaming in September will do so via a phone or tablet, Microsoft does not specify which devices are currently supported. The software maker has been involved in ongoing discussions with Apple about App Store policies that have prevented Microsoft from testing xCloud with the same features as the Android version. Microsoft began testing xCloud on iOS devices earlier this year, but the test has been limited to a single one Halo game.
“We eventually want to bring xCloud to every screen that anyone can stream games to. Right now we only say mobile, says Spencer. “There are discussions going on and we are working through things. We will talk more specifically about which mobile devices through the August and September launch. “
It sounds like we will get more information about the xCloud launch in general in August. I also asked Spencer about the promised support for the PS4 controller and streaming of xCloud games to the PC, and he promised more clarity in the company’s plans next month.
Project xCloud will not even be the final name of Microsoft’s game streaming service. “This is not the official name, but you should think of it as Game Pass streaming or Xbox streaming, something similar,” Spencer explains. “We do not actually have the final name yet, but it will not be Project xCloud.”
In addition to the launch plans, Microsoft has greater ambitions with xCloud that goes beyond streaming to mobile devices. “It’s easy to surf and buy capabilities on xCloud that I think is extremely valuable today,” says Spencer. “Many times the first time I play a game will actually be on xCloud, so I can go and use it as my snack bar trial experience.”
Microsoft plans to use xCloud as a means to enable people to quickly try out Xbox games. This could mean logging in to an Xbox console and watching a friend play a game and quickly log in before your full download is complete, or just clicking on a link from Facebook Gaming in the future.
“We want that trial to be as simple as it is in music and video today, where I can post a track on Spotify today and you can stream it right away,” Spencer said. “In time, wherever I see a game, I could try it.” The idea is that when you see a game on any device or browser, you should be able to start streaming it through xCloud in the future.
Some of these xCloud ambitions sound similar to what Google promised with Stadia. Google’s big plan is to use YouTube so people can jump straight into games. It has not been realized yet, but it is easy to access games as it will be an important part of both xCloud and Stadia in the future.
Some rival streaming services, such as Nvidia’s GeForce Now, have encountered problems with publishers by offering their games to stream without their permission. Microsoft has not encountered similar issues with publishers yet. “Over 100 games will be there,” says Spencer. “We already have an existing relationship with so many publishers, so for us the conversation is how we take the big company that we have built as a platform, and as a studio or publisher and expand it.”
That does not guarantee it each The Xbox Game Pass game will necessarily be available when streaming xCloud games, but it really sounds like the vast majority will be. Many game developers have benefited from increased sales thanks to the Xbox Game Pass, especially indie developers who see the immediate benefit of having access to more than 10 million subscribers.
Microsoft now plans to show more games coming to xCloud during its Xbox Series X gaming event next week, and we should get more solid launch details about the service in August.
Microsoft has been building on this xCloud launch for the best part of a decade, ever since the company first demonstrated Halo 4 running on a Windows Phone back in 2013. After nearly a year of publicly testing xCloud, September will mark the first major step towards Microsoft’s ambitious plan to reach billions of players around the world.