Xbox head Phil Spencer says it 'makes sense' to bundle xCloud with Xbox Game Pass

What you need to know

  • "Project xCloud" is Microsoft's upcoming game streaming service.
  • It might be bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
  • The company doesn't measure success only through consoles sold.
  • Player and subscriber counts are more indicative of Xbox's health nowadays.

At E3 2019, Microsoft unveiled "Project xCloud," its game streaming service which should enter public trials in October. With the release of Google Stadia slated for November, many gamers want to know how Microsoft wants to position itself in the future. Luckily, an interview between Xbox head Phil Spencer and The Verge provided some answers.

Starting with xCloud, Spencer reiterated that it's coming in October, and pricing will be revealed before it launches so gamers know what to expect and how they can sign up. At launch, xCloud will focus on mobile devices like smartphones. He added that combining xCloud with Xbox Game Pass "makes a ton of sense." Given the fact that Xbox Game Pass Ultimate includes Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Game Pass for PC, and Xbox Live Gold, xCloud may be added to the package when it's available as a public trial.

Spencer said the following when he talked about bundling Xbox Game Pass with xCloud.

We haven't talked about the business model yet. We're here with the public preview to let people try it out, which is cool. It's the first time we've had a hands-on for people who don't work at Microsoft, so we're learning a lot and listening a lot. We announced a date for when it's coming, and we will be talking about a business model before it comes so people know what to do to sign up. As you think about a subscription like Xbox Game Pass, I do think the idea of Xbox Game Pass and an xCloud-like subscription makes a ton of sense. Think about what the convergence of those two things looks like. I think it's smart to think about. We haven't announced anything there, but I'd say that idea makes a ton of sense. How do I build my library? Xbox Game Pass is a great way for you to secure a bunch of content. Then, how do I get access to that library wherever I go? Do I use hardware that's Microsoft's or hardware that's my own in my home?

Hopefully everything will be bundled together. That would be an amazing value proposition for gamers and would encourage even more people to subscribe. However, that wasn't all that was discussed in the interview.

Given the fact that Microsoft is releasing games on Xbox One, PC, mobile, and in the future xCloud – not to mention Minecraft on Nintendo Switch with Xbox Live integration – using console sales are a metric for success seems outdated. Spencer said that "how many subscribers you have" and "how many games people are buying" is a better indicator.

You can read his comments on how to measure success below.

If somebody bought an Xbox One X yesterday, I want them to feel completely that they can have a great experience for years and years. I also want to be as transparent as I can with them about the roadmap. So if somebody is sitting on the original Xbox One now, and they're thinking about an Xbox One X, they can make their own decision about what platform they want to have. I don't need to sell any specific version of the console in order for us to reach our business goals. The business isn't how many consoles you sell. The business is how many players are playing the games that they buy, how they play. So if somebody bought an original Xbox One from us on launch day, and they're buying and playing games, I don't need to sell them an xbox One S. I don't need to sell them an Xbox One X. If they want to stay on the Xbox One they have and stay as a great member of our community or subscribe to Xbox Game Pass, that's a great business for us. I think it's easy from the outside to judge the health of our business around how many consoles any company sells. In the end, how many subscribers you have to something like Xbox Game Pass, how many games people are buying, those are much better metrics on the health of the business.

It's always interesting when we get a chance to read interviews with key players behind Microsoft's gaming ambitions. Will you try out xCloud when it's available in October? Do you agree with Spencer's comments that subscriber count is more important to the health of a gaming company due to the shifting landscape? Let us know.

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Asher Madan

Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.