Microsoft has launched cloud gaming for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, bringing remote game streaming to Android devices. The mobile-first rollout takes full-fledged Xbox One titles beyond the living room, further expanding its vision to bring the gaming ecosystem to devices of all shapes and sizes. The technology, formerly known under its Project xCloud codename, now comes included with its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, extending its value beyond its Xbox and PC roots.
Xbox Game Pass leverages Microsoft's cloud data centers for remote streaming, with server blades running your game in the background, before broadcasting your phone with ultra-low latency. That comes with set internet requirements over WiFi and cellular data to ensure smooth gameplay while away from your console. We've rounded up what you need to know about Xbox cloud gaming internet requirements and how to best tune your experience at launch.
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List of Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming internet requirements
A stable internet connection is fundamental to experiencing cloud gaming, with multiple variables to consider when ensuring your network meets the demands. The overall speed and stability play crucial roles, with download speed the most important metric for most users. Microsoft recommends up to 10Mbps down for Xbox cloud gaming, which generally aligns with what's needed to stream HD videos, too.
To check your connection meets that requirement, it's best to cross-reference that recommendation with your download speeds. Dedicated speed testing websites like Speedtest.net provide your speed with a simple, one-click test, which provides a bearing to understand how your network compares to those demands.
Xbox cloud gaming also works over WiFi or mobile data connections. For WiFi, Microsoft recommends using 5GHz wireless, which provides several advantages over 2.4GHz connections. While the implementation varies based on your network, both wireless bands are widely used nowadays, with baked-in dual-band connectivity with many modern routers. The benefits include higher throughput and reduced interference from other 2.4GHz networks, all of which help deliver a more stable cloud gaming experience.
Mobile data can also be used for Xbox cloud gaming while on the move. Using an optimal 5G network provides the best experience, although 4G remains capable with the right speeds. WiFi is often preferred, but that's not always a viable solution when outside the house.
How much data does Xbox Game Pass for Android use?
While Microsoft's cloud gaming solution packs some cutting-edge technology, streaming high-resolution video with sub-latency, the data usage shouldn't be a concern for most. Xbox Game Pass for Android debuts with 720p resolution at 60Hz for streaming, providing suitable quality for a compact mobile display, and keeping data usage reasonable for extended use.
We previously tested Xbox cloud gaming through its Project xCloud testing phase, monitoring data usage over 15-minute sessions, with Android's integrated data-tracking features. Our gameplay sessions averaged around 590MB over that window, translating to an estimated 5.2Mbps, or 2.36GB per hour. It's an expected result, akin to your everyday HD video stream. YouTube's bitrate estimates put 720p, 60Hz playback around 2GB per hour, only slightly below Xbox streaming.
For those wrangling data caps, Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming shouldn't cause concern any more than other video streaming platforms. If you can comfortably watch Netflix movies or YouTube videos, Microsoft game streaming won't be much different.
What you need to get started with Xbox cloud gaming
Microsoft has looked to make Xbox cloud gaming easy to get started anywhere, provided you have a high-speed internet connection and an Android device. The Xbox Game Pass app, available via Google Play and Samsung Store, serves as the platform for all game streaming. An Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription is required, available for $15 month, (opens in new tab) which unlocks over 150 games at launch, with more on the way over the months ahead.
The service comes with additional requirements beyond your internet, with a device running Android 6.0 or newer. While an Xbox controller is also recommended, using a Bluetooth 4.0 connection, a small pool of titles also have on-screen touch controls. Minecraft Dungeons, Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice, and Gears 5 are among those early titles, but severely limits your access to the full library. For the other 150+ games, one of the best controllers for Xbox cloud gaming is essential.
Any existing Xbox controller pairs wirelessly provided it's the latest generation Bluetooth-compatible revision, introduced in mid-2017. These controllers can be identified via their streamlined plastic body, where the front faceplate surrounds the Xbox controller, rather than split into a standalone black plastic bar. Microsoft also recommends using one of the best Xbox controller clips, which mounts your phone above the gamepad.
Matt Brown is Windows Central's Senior Games Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.
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