"The expansion of Xbox gaming to Fire TV devices offers players another option," Microsoft surprisingly partners with Amazon to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming

Xbox cloud gaming on Fire Stick
If you don't have a TV with Xbox Cloud Gaming capabilities, you can now add it in with a $40 Amazon Fire TV stick. (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Xbox Cloud Gaming is a $15 per month service bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate that lets you stream hundreds of games to mobile, PC, and the web. 
  • As of right now, to get Xbox Cloud Gaming on a TV, you need to use an attached Xbox console (which can run games natively anyway), or own an oft-pricey Samsung TV. 
  • Today, Microsoft and Amazon announced a partnership to bring the Xbox Cloud Gaming app to Amazon Fire TV devices, vastly expanding the accessibility of the platform. 

Xbox Cloud Gaming is a great option for those who don't fancy shelling out for a pricey video game console or gaming PC, offering hundreds of games for a $15 per month fee bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Playable on Android devices, iOS via the web at xbox.com/play, Xbox consoles, and Samsung TVs, Xbox Cloud Gaming streams Xbox games over the internet, bypassing the need for powerful local hardware. 

Xbox games are still designed for television screens, however, and playing many cloud games on a phone can be a fiddly affair, even with the best Xbox cloud gaming mobile controllers. Even if you don't have an Xbox console, Xbox Cloud Games play best on a TV, but up until now, only Samsung TVs had the privilege. Samsung TVs with the necessary gaming hub feature can be quite pricey too, but what if there was a cheaper way?

Now, you can use a $40 Amazon Fire TV stick and connect it straight up to any monitor, and instantly gain access to Xbox Cloud Gaming. That's right, the big tech cloud rivals are unexpectedly partnering up for Xbox Cloud Gaming, offering a native solution for the first time. 

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K $49.99 $39.99 (20% off)

Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K $49.99 $39.99 (20% off)

Amazon's excellent Fire TV range brings together dozens of your favorite entertainment apps into a single place. You can turn any monitor or TV into a "smart TV" using this stick, which comes with Bluetooth capabilities and Wi-Fi 6, making it ideal for Xbox Cloud Gaming. 

See at: Amazon 

"The expansion of Xbox gaming to Fire TV devices offers players another option for enjoying their favorite games using devices they already own," said Ashley McKissick, who leads Xbox cloud gaming as Xbox CVP for Xbox experiences. "For those who don’t own an Xbox console, this provides an affordable and convenient way to get started. With Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, there's something for every type of player. We look forward to having more people join the Xbox gaming community."

"We’re committed to making it easy for customers to access their favorite entertainment experiences with Fire TV," said Daniel Rausch, vice president of Fire TV and Alexa. "We’re excited to work with Microsoft to bring the Xbox app to select Fire TV devices so customers can enjoy a vast library of high-quality games, allowing them to play amazing titles without the need for a console."

Initially, Xbox Cloud Gaming will be available on the Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K and Amazon Fire Stick 4K Max models, before potentially expanding to the cheaper HD Amazon Fire Stick Lite model later on. The slightly more expensive Max model supports Wi-Fi 6E, which should give it an edge in connectivity over the 4K Wi-Fi 6 model, should your home network solution support Wi-Fi 6 and 6E, that is. 

It seems that Xbox Cloud Gaming on Amazon Fire TV will be available in every region where Xbox Cloud Gaming is currently available, too. Naturally, you will also need a Bluetooth Xbox Series X|S controller to connect up and play via your Fire TV, too. 

An unlikely partnership in the cloud

Cloud gaming is getting another boost with this latest partnership.  (Image credit: Jennifer Young - Windows Central)
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Amazon and Microsoft are often bitter cloud rivals when it comes to business service applications, going as far to sue each other to gain favor for lucrative governmental contracts. Amazon Gaming and Xbox seem a little more chill, though. Microsoft partners extensively with Amazon's Twitch and Prime Gaming platforms, for example, and Amazon is bringing its New World MMO to Xbox later this year. At the end of the day, it's all just business, and this partnership stands to be mutually beneficial for both. 

Amazon has its own nascent cloud gaming platform dubbed Amazon Luna, and you'd think they'd want to proliferate their own service on their own hardware. But cloud gaming is hard, and Microsoft already owns all the pieces of that puzzle since picking up Activision-Blizzard, Bethesda, and various other major global franchises. Microsoft has already started supporting Amazon Luna with its content too anyway, adding Fallout titles to the platform. Of course, Amazon has been instrumental in causing the Fallout franchise to utterly explode in popularity thanks to the Amazon Fallout TV show. So, I'd say that relationships between the two firms are probably quite peachy right now. 

What is more interesting is the fact Microsoft is still intent on growing Xbox Cloud Gaming. For a time, it felt as though Microsoft might've been backing away from it. Server capacity has still been an issue in some regions, although Microsoft has gradually worked to repair the delta. NVIDIA GeForce Now has also given Microsoft incredibly strong competition in this space, given that its tech is just so good that it regularly beats Xbox Cloud Gaming for latency and connection stability. Although recently, I've found NVIDIA GeForce Now has had some queue issues of its own.

It was already sort of possible to side-load Xbox Game Pass onto a Fire TV, but being able to get it straight from Amazon's app store will deliver it to a whole new audience. It's also fortuitous timing, since my colleague Zac Bowden discovered a patent for Microsoft's own cancelled Fire TV-like Xbox Keystone just yesterday

Though, with Microsoft adding an entire new platform into the mix with Amazon Fire TV, I do wonder how server capacities might be impacted. I also wonder what investments Microsoft is making to bring the latency of their experiences up to par with their PC-first brethren. Xbox Cloud Gaming servers are built using Xbox Series X hardware, after all, which aren't necessarily spec'd with video encoding in mind.

In any case, it's great to see Microsoft isn't backing down here. I'm eager for more information on exactly when we'll be able to bring our own games to Xbox Cloud Gaming, though.

Jez Corden
Co-Managing Editor

Jez Corden is a Managing Editor at Windows Central, focusing primarily on all things Xbox and gaming. Jez is known for breaking exclusive news and analysis as relates to the Microsoft ecosystem while being powered by tea. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his XB2 Podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

  • fjtorres5591
    Did I miss something? An announcement of XBOX CLOUD GAMING as a standalone service? Last I heard it was still in official "beta* and just a perk.of Game Pass utimate.

    And the announcement of app-based streaming on the Firestick is a bit less impactful than the PR makes it seem because XBOX CLOUD GAMING on Fire devices has long been possible via the Silk browser on the stick as well as the tablets for anybody interested in it. (I've done it myself.)

    Best guess is that streaming via the xbox app is the price Amazon is paying for MS putting games on Luna. The tech is good but the basic catalog isn't big enough to justify the price. Much like NVIDIA's service, it's more a slight expansion of the reach of the games than a true competitor to Xcloud, which isn't all that big on its own.