No, Microsoft isn't working on Xbox game streaming to Windows 10 Mobile, but it should!

In a posting on Twitter, Nawzil10 submitted a purported screenshot of Forza Horizon 3 running to a Windows 10 Mobile device, claiming that Microsoft was beta testing Xbox game to Windows 10 Mobile streaming. Given Nawzil10's track record for posting false information, I did some digging of my own and discovered that no, Microsoft isn't working on streaming to Mobile devices at the moment. But they should!

Xbox to Windows 10 Mobile Streaming

Streaming Battlefield 1 using the Xbox Dev Companion app.

While Xbox to Windows 10 Mobile streaming via the Xbox app is technically possible simply by the virtues of the Universal Windows Platform, Microsoft has yet to enable the Windows 10 PC-exclusive feature for mobile consumers. Xbox Platform team lead Mike Ybarra told me that, while the capabilities are there, Xbox game streaming to Windows 10 Mobile is not being worked on at the moment — a far cry from Nawzil's claim of the feature being "beta tested."

Still, you can get an idea of what this experience might be like using the Xbox Dev Companion app (opens in new tab), available for Windows 10 PC and Windows 10 Mobile. The app allows you remotely control your Xbox, and because Windows 10 Mobile does support the Xbox One S controller's Bluetooth stack, it does work to some limited degree on mobile phones.

At least on a technical level, the Dev Companion works well with Xbox to Windows 10 Mobile streaming. It's responsive, with minimal lag, thoroughly playable when you disregard the scaling problems. It doesn't seem to work with all games, however, but controlling apps and the dashboard works fine. It probably just needs a tweak or two to allow the Xbox One S controller to access the games, so why doesn't Xbox enable it for everybody?

From conversations I've had with people who work at Xbox, I get the sense that the team just feels like it isn't a great experience. Even on a large phone like the Lumia 950 XL, HUD and UI elements are illegible on games like Battlefield 1, making it impossible to read the minimap and other important information. But the same wouldn't be true for all games.

Microsoft should enable Xbox to Windows 10 Mobile streaming anyway

Microsoft should enable Xbox to Windows 10 Streaming despite the squished HUD elements because in some games, such as INSIDE, don't really rely on any sort of on-screen UI displays. Even in more complex games, if you're familiar enough with the title from playing it on Xbox with a HD TV, a crushed UI wouldn't be such a big deal.

There are even peripherals you can purchase that allow you to mount a phone on top of an Xbox controller, such as the Utorcase mount, which can be 3D printed to fit all sorts of devices — including the Lumia 950 / XL. It would be a cool feature, niche, but cool.

Would you actually use it, though?

I suppose developing the feature fully for Windows 10 Mobile boils down to one thing: how many people would actually use it? Streaming to a laptop makes far more sense, as you'll have the screen size necessary to see all of those text, UI, and HUD elements. Continuum would help, but how many people have a permanent Continuum dock set for remotely accessing their Xbox at home right now? And even then, you're adding a lot of additional latency into the mix, which could further hinder the experience.

In a future of ubiquitous high-speed next-generation connectivity, streaming Xbox games to your mobile device via the Cloud may indeed be on the cards. UWP gives developers the tools to scale UI elements to compensate for different screen sizes, but admittedly, very, very few have taken the opportunity to do so.

Nintendo's new console, the Switch, will allow gamers to take their experiences with them on the move, in a device powered by similar architecture to Nvidia's Shield tablet. It would be nice to see Microsoft make more moves in mobility, considering it's in their mission statement, but it remains to be seen whether that's through UWP, cloud streaming, or remote access features as described above.

Do you want to play core games on your smartphone? Would a small tablet be more appropriate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

Jez Corden
Managing Editor

Jez Corden is the Managing Editor for 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 caffeine. Follow on Twitter @JezCorden and listen to his Xbox Two podcast, all about, you guessed it, Xbox!

73 Comments
  • Yes. It would be far more convenient to do that than it would to grab the Surface and set it up for gaming.
  • I'd first like to see them catch up with Steam in terms of performance when streaming to PC (Maybe not possible with the current Xbox One models spec). When I stream over the exact same network using a Steam Link the experience is perfect - Full quality graphics at 1080p and 60FPS, no input lag (Wired Network) using the same wired network the Xbox One streaming struggles with modern games. Streaming Xbox 360 games seems to work better, with less input lag but you can see a noticeable drop in visual quality and framerate when streaming Halo Master Chief Collection. It does work well for certain games, but I can play any game on Steam and have no input lag at all at full quality and FPS. I wouldn't bother streaming Battlefield 1 from Xbox to PC.
  • Agree, I've tried it using my Surface (M3 model) with Halo 5, and the experience wasn't the greatest.
  • Especially if they let this work with the MOGA Hero Pro, which already supports Windows Phone, has a similar layout and natively has a way to hold the phone without some ridiculous adapter.
  • This would be just a waste of money.
    Whilst there would definitely be some people who would do it, those people wouldn't reach 1% of the users of the platform.
    Just take a look at the competition: Sony's far more popular PlayStation can stream games to Sony's Xperia devices (not sure of the status on the rest of Android but if it's not available yet, it's suppose to become at some point).
    Now count how many people you know actually stream a PlayStation game to their device.
    Not to mention that capability did nothing to save Sony's mobile division from the continuous sinking. The same would happen with the Xbox and Windows Phone.
    With the difference, of course, that Windows Phone has less and 1% market-share and that the percentage of users within that less than 1% would make the audience so small that in itself it justifies Microsoft not bothering with it.
    After all, you can already stream Xbox games to the Microsoft platform that matters - Windows 10.
  • "This would be just a waste of money."
    As the article notes we can pretty much already do this with the Dev Companion app. They just have not officially listed it for Mobile and you have to do a Store trick to install it. Thanks to UWP the dev work by Microsoft is already complete for the most part as this tool is used to stream to PCs. At this point it's more about Microsoft not being happy with the experience rather than costs, which you suggest.
  • Yes but is it a good experience? Not really.
    So they'd still have to spend time/money to make sure they optimise everything so that not only the phone can handle the streaming without hick-ups (minimal lag is still lag) and the game itself morphs acceptably which doesn't happen with many, as the article also points out.
  • "Yes but is it a good experience? Not really."
    From the article:
    "At least on a technical level, the Dev Companion works well with Xbox to Windows 10 Mobile streaming. It's responsive, with minimal lag, thoroughly playable when you disregard the scaling problems. It doesn't seem to work with all games, however, but controlling apps and the dashboard works fine. It probably just needs a tweak or two to allow the Xbox One S controller to access the games, so why doesn't Xbox enable it for everybody?"
    It actually does play quite well, just not ATB. Any optimizations for mobile would carry over to any other PC experience as well. The point is with such little market share for Mobile and many of us "testing" the OS for Microsoft why not just drop it in Fast App Ring and let it be? What's the downside? Shoot, you can already do this with Mobile and Remotr for PC games.
  • Remotr is an app?
  • Yeah, for Win10 PC and Mobile. We'll be doing more on it soon. Lets you stream PC games to any other PC/Mobile
  • Well, define "play quite well"? For example having crushed UI's is a big reason to not pull the trigger. And you can't really select which games can be streamed or not. If you enable streaming, it'll stream all games. "with such little market share for Mobile and many of us "testing" the OS for Microsoft why not just drop it in Fast App Ring and let it be? What's the downside?" With such little market share, why even bother with it? Was this capability even planned? Or was is just a result of the unified core of Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile? If it's just a consequence of that, maybe that's why Microsoft isn't dropping it even if only for the W10M beta-testers. Not to mention that dropping it on the Fast Ring would imply some form of intention of releasing it to the public. The alternative, of course, would be put it on the Fast Ring and then eventually remove it, leaving angry those few who still have the goodwill to use W10M specially in the test rings (you know how this goes, W10M will crucify Microsoft either way). Have you tried to get an answer from Microsoft on *why* aren't they doing it? The article just says Mike Ybarra said they're not working on it currently.
  • The iPhone was just a huge waste of money, right up until the point that it started making money. Any new feature is an investment. No one may use this feature right now, but in the future (with more powerful/efficient phones), this will be a great thing to have. I would use it, even right now, as there are some games I'd love to hop onto real quick while away from home, even if the experience is no where near as good as playing locally.
  • Maybe I've been out of the loop for too long but what's the store trick?
  • Download to your PC then go to to the Store listing on your Mobile, download another app and quickly go back to the listing for Dec Companion and you can direct install it.
  • Nice one, I'll try that after work.
  • There's not need to do that. Once you download it on your PC. Go to the Store on your Windows Mobile device, Open the hamburger menu and go to "My Library". There you will see the app listed with the option to download right from that listing.
  • What is this store trick, and how do iinstall this
  • There is no need for that. Install it on a PC and then go to the Store on your phone, open the Store and go to "My Library" it will be listed there with an icon to the right which begins the download.
  • @DJCBS, the financial analysis depends which side you're looking at -- I think it's pretty clear that this would have negligible value to the Xbox division in its market share fight with PlayStation. On the other hand, with Windows Phone only having 1% market share, it wouldn't take much of an impact on phone selection to have a major percentage impact on phone market share. If a few hundred thousand people increased their interest in Windows Phones because of this, that would be a win for Microsoft where it would not be worthwhile for a more successful mobile player. I have believed for a while that Xbox is Microsoft's strongest brand asset on the consumer side and its best vehicle to regain consumer interest in Windows Mobile. I think Microsoft's strategy is now shifting away from a "Windows Phone" to offering a new kind of device more like a small tablet with call capabilities, but the need to interest consumers on one side and enterprise on the other remains. Not all consumers use are care about Xbox, but marketing success is all about segmentation and finding ways to be dominant with certain groups on which to then build a broad customer base. On the consumer side, one of those first groups could be Xbox players.
  • Turn the feature on, dammit!! Why not.
  • Why not indeed. Less than 1 percent means nothing to lose!
  • What if it could be used with mobile phone VR?
  • The streaming protocol isn't designed to support any other input besides the controller and keyboard from the client to the Xbox.
    ​For mobile phone VR assisted by remote processing, they would have to create a new protocol and probably wouldn't want to limit it to Xbox as PCs have more powerfull GPUs. So that's another client app anyway.
    This is coming soon to HoloLens, and I expect it to make its way into every Windows Holographic all-in-one headsets to take advantage of desktop-class GPU. The same technology could probably power a phone-based VR headset running Windows Mobile as well.
  • So they have this thing called RDP. Perhaps it isn't optimal for gaming, I don't know, but it would kind of make sense to expand on it and on RemoteFX. I mean when they can take advantage of a GPU in a virtualized environment, why can't they do it directly on the metal? And don't forget, they already support streaming to a Hololens, so the jump to Windows Mobile should be that big.
  • I don't think GPU is the problem. i think its the bandwidth/lag of the protocol plus adding extra input from the headset to the source PC.
  • "Nobody" uses W10M, it's a "dead" platform... so what have they got to lose? I'm of the opinion that they should enable it for everyone with the caveat that it's not a 100% perfect experience right now. I've tried using the Xbox Dev Companion app a few times and Unravel and ReCore were very much playable on my 950XL. Unless of course there is a long-term plan in place where next year they tell us, "Look at the new Gears of War game running unmodified on EVERY Windows 10 device from Project Scorpio down to the Surface Phone! UWP FTW!"
  • It is shocking this hasn't been dome already. I can stream my Xbox to a cheap HP Stream tablet, but not to my more powerful 950xl...
  • This is a really insightful article, well done, Jez. All of this should already be naturally supported by all of the Windows 10 ecosystem, it's only natural. Nintendo is doing the crazy convertibility thing, and Sony has experience in the streaming thing, both through the net and in-house. Microsoft is positioned to do this, and this would be a good time to do it though they might be waiting for Scorpio to kick off. Also, I don't really know why the streaming should stop in Xbox to other devices, for example it would be great to have it from Windows 10 PC to mobile.
  • Thanks buddy, I agree!
  • This would make to much sense and really help Windows 10 Mobile with the younger generation. But hey, long live Nutella.
  • This will do absolutely nothing to resuscitate W10M.
    Streaming PS4 titles to Android didn't save Sony's mobile division either.
  • Potato, pototo
  • You sir, are correct!
  • Streaming to a mobile phone doesn't make it any more mobile as it stops working once you get out of your LAN WiFi coverage and I don't think many people don't have a better receiving device around with a larger screen when they are at home.
    ​And if you want games that adapts properly to the smaller screen and can be used on the go, UWP with DirectX is already supported. For continuum scenarios, I'd rather see a more advanced dock that supports Miracast, USB-Continuum, RDP (Remote Desktop) and Xbox streaming right in the firmware, such a dock with ports for displays and ethernet would then be used for Continuum, but also for remote access to PCs and Xboxes on the LAN without having to attach a phone to it. That would be the ultimate casting receiver. What they should be working on to enable mobile gaming is a peripheral to add physical gamepad pieces to phones and tablets, something less clunky than mounting a phone on top of an Xbox controller.
    ​Two pieces that can attach to the sides of a phone or tablet, basically like the Nintendo Switch controller but for Lumia and Surface devices.
    ​A lumia or another Windows Mobile phone with proper physical controller attached would be a perfect pocket console, and would probably help generate interest for mobile UWP DirectX games as well.
    ​A Surface with snappable controller sides would be PC gaming on the go, and unsnapping the two controller pieces to use them wirelessly would enable more comfortable scenarios in trains, planes, or multiplayer with an extra standard Xbox One Bluetooth controller.
  • What if they made the xbox(live) a cloud service? Log into your account, get sent to a virtual xbox in the cloud. Have it do the heavy work and stream video output to your screen(like the xbox does on lcoal network streaming). Then you wont need to be tied down to your local network or vpn, you could use the cell phone data, or wifi from another location. Kicker would be only able to play digital purchased games. Could usher in a new era of console gaming as hardware then becomes irrelevant.
  • Streaming to a mobile phone doesn't make it any more mobile as it stops working once you get out of your LAN WiFi coverage and I don't think many people don't have a better receiving device around with a larger screen when they are at home.
      Well, it's exactly what Sony does when it allows wifi streaming from a PS4 to a PS Vita or whatever handheld thing they're selling nowadays. You could want to play a game in a place of your house that isn't near the console or a TV/monitor. Or that other Nvidia Shield portable thingy where you could stream games to it. So besides the fact that the industry is already doing this in other systems, it's clear that it wouldn't hurt to have the option for those who want to use it. A bit like Continuum.
  • If it costs more than $20 of development time for W10M, Microsoft usually hard passes.
  • der her
  • Yes and amen!!!
  • Microsoft should release a Nintendo switch like device perhaps? Might get people to bring apps to the tablet uwp.
  • The Switch-like device is called Windows 10 mobile, on things like X3 and 950. I don't think Microsoft is going to make anything closer to the Switch than that.
  • How can i do?
  • I have the dev mode app and tried the Doom demo, it worked, it worked very well. I agree with Dan they have nothing to lose but potentially much to gain if they release to fast ring. There was virtually no lag when I tested it and I could clearly see everything on screen. So to Phil/Dona......push the button.
  • While on the phone's screen, some XBox One game elements will be really tiny, there's this thing called Continuum... You'd still be streaming to your phone, but displaying on a larger display. That's where I think the value lies. I personally don't really have a lot of need for a separate desktop PC, so I don't have one anymore. For those times that I want a bigger screen, I can plug my phone into the dock and voila, big screen experience. Sure, that experience is still a little half-baked, but that's something I know they're working on vastly improving in the W10 Creators Update.
  • They released a half-baked OS to the public (when the 950/xl first released, it was a hot mess) they literally have nothing to lose.... Because they have nothing! (almost) if we are testers, why not increase our workload, I'm sure we'd oblige, I know i would.
  • Yeah it would be cool, but really how many people would really use this feature?