Microsoft Streaming Service xCloud Launching In September
Microsoft will launch its game streaming service, known as Project xCloud, on September 15th exclusively on Android devices. Project xCloud will be bundled as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, priced at $14.99 per month, with a promise of more than 100 games available on Android tablets and phones. Game streaming will be limited initially to Android; iPhone and iPad users will have to wait. This will give Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members access to “more than 100 games from the cloud” if they use Android devices. xCloud will “began as a beta” as it “scale[s] to millions of players around the world,” according to the company. Microsoft’s xCloud service is not yet available for iOS devices, but the company appears to be working on it. In February, Microsoft held an Microsoft held an iOS preview to test the platform on iPhones and iPads. And the company has said it plans to bring xCloud to Windows 10 with a dedicated app sometime this year.
Microsoft is now pushing ahead with its xCloud launch on September 15th regardless, although it appears the company is referring to it as the “cloud gaming” feature of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. It’s launching in 22 countries next month, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The Cloud gaming feature, or xCloud as we know it today, will also launch as a beta while Microsoft works to scale it to the millions it expects to use the service around the world. Microsoft will end its free xCloud preview on September 11th, and the company is planning to launch an updated Xbox Game Pass app with game streaming on September 15th. Interestingly, the versions that will be published on the One Store in Korea and Galaxy Store for Samsung users globally will both include “in-app purchase capabilities,” according to Microsoft, suggesting that the Google Play Store version will not.
Microsoft said today it is partnering with Razer, PowerA, 8BitDo, and Nacon to sell new accessories built for xCloud such as phone clips and travel controllers. Gamers can also use the Xbox One Bluetooth Wireless and PlayStation DualShock 4 controllers.
Microsoft said it hopes to extend its “day-one access to new titles from Xbox Game Studios as part of Xbox Game Pass” to the xCloud service, too. A full catalog of games isn’t yet available, but Microsoft has shared a partial list, which includes Halo: The Master Chief Collection, Yakuza Kiwami 2, Destiny 2, and Minecraft Dungeons. Here’s the list:
- Ark: Survival Evolved
- Bleeding Edge
- Costume Quest 2
- Crackdown 3 (campaign)
- Destiny 2
- F1 2019
- Forza Horizon 4
- Gears of War: Ultimate Edition
- Gears of War 4
- Gears 5 Ultimate Edition
- Halo 5: Guardians
- Halo Wars: Definitive Edition
- Halo Wars 2
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection
- Halo: Spartan Assault
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Killer Instinct Definitive Edition
- Max: The Curse of Brotherhood
- Minecraft Dungeons
- The Outer Worlds
- Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Quantum Break
- ReCore: Definitive Edition
- Ryse: Son of Rome
- Sea of Thieves: Anniversary Edition
- State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
- Sunset Overdrive
- Super Lucky’s Tale
- Tell Me Why
- The Bard’s Tale Trilogy
- Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
- Wasteland 3
- Wasteland Remastered
- Yakuza Kiwami 2
More games will be added over time, Microsoft said.
What is cloud gaming?
The ability to play games from the cloud is a concept that’s gathered increasing momentum in the $150 billion video game industry.
The technology is often thought of as a kind of “Netflix for games,” as it lets people stream games over the internet on their phone, tablet or PC while the games themselves are run on remote servers. The appeal of this model is that gamers wouldn’t have to buy a console or an expensive gaming computer to play.
Competition in the cloud gaming space has heated up of late, with Google launching its own streaming platform called Stadia last year. Google’s service was met with mixed reception due to a limited library of games and the fact that many of those titles had to be purchased individually.
Nvidia has also released its own platform called GeForce Now, however that ran into trouble with developers earlier this year, and Activision Blizzard pulled all its games from the service. Meanwhile, Sony has long offered a cloud gaming subscription service called PlayStation Now, but that’s only available on the PlayStation 4 and PC.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is available to new members for $1 a month for the first month, and then for $14.99 a month thereafter. Along with access to xCloud, it includes Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which includes games for both console and PC.