Today, Microsoft revealed that Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming on the web is entering a limited beta, bringing the service to iOS devices via browsers like Safari, and low-power PCs via Microsoft Edge and Chrrome. This is how Microsoft aims to circumvent Apple's draconian and anti-competitive rules pertaining to the Apple app store, which blocks any form of competition to Apple's mobile gaming monopoly.
Right now, Xbox Game Pass for cloud features console games, built from the ground up on Xbox and then injected with touch controls that mimic a regular Xbox controller. The developer work is relatively trivial when compared with doing a full mobile port, which for some titles isn't even possible due to the low power of mobile phones and lower-end PCs.
One user on Twitter asked Xbox lead Phil Spencer if Microsoft's cloud gaming efforts could one day incorporate the PC versions of games. Spencer effectively says "yes."
Yes, Azure helps. One of the reasons we push for cross save, don't want players to have to decide which version of a Cloud game they play unless they want to. Progress needs to just move with your account, same with community. But PC games will come, focused on console games now.Yes, Azure helps. One of the reasons we push for cross save, don't want players to have to decide which version of a Cloud game they play unless they want to. Progress needs to just move with your account, same with community. But PC games will come, focused on console games now.— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) April 19, 2021April 19, 2021
While the priority remains on console for now, Microsoft is clearly working towards a future where PC games can join the service. Competing cloud streaming platform Amazon Luna already streams PC games, as does NVIDIA's GeForce Now. Google Stadia conversely asks developers to port games to Linux, which for many devs simply isn't business-viable without Google's support.
Xbox Game Pass for cloud is all about expanding access to console-made games to a broader audience. Video game consoles have an install base in the tens of millions, whereas addressable devices via the cloud truly number in the billions. Bringing Game Pass to lower-end PCs and mobile devices will no doubt further expand the reach of the service, and also, bring Xbox titles to a broader audience than was ever previously possible.
Be sure to check out our round ups of best phone clips for Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming and best tablets for Xbox Game Pass cloud streaming, and let us know what you think of PC games hitting the service.
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!
Bringing PC games to xCloud serves two purposes: first, getting PC games to older and lower-powered PCs, reducing the need to constantly upgrade, and second, bringing PC games to consoles. There are entire categories of games that exist primarily on PC and in several cases the earliest games in prominent series only exist on PC. Plus older, classic games in their original form. This tech will mean that games will no longer go "out of print" as they age, leaving folks to scrounge for used copies, since the publisher's cost to maintain the game on streaming will be minimal and sustainable even if interest in the game is minimal. Getting there will take a long time but the implications for current (and future) platform holders (and not just console builders) will be extensive. NVIDIA and AMD will both see impacts to their GPU business along with SONY and NINTENDO. On the flip side, new consoles will be viable if they embrace GAMEPASS both at the very low end (essentially hardwired browser boxes) but also at the higher end (THINK: the new ATARI VCS). The disruption potential is massive, hinging on the availability/reliability of low latency broadband.
Easy to see why MS is taking a slow measured approach.
This is going to make Nvidia nervous.
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