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You’ve always thought of a Xbox console as, well, a console. But Microsoft said Thursday that as it compels Xbox gaming to the cloud, you are going to see something completely new: smart TVs with the ability to play Xbox games, and brand new Xbox streaming hardware, also.
Microsoft isn’t saying which TV makers it’s working with, or when these devices will start. Nor is it saying what the streaming hardware will be known as, as it will start, what’s going to be inside it, or whether the company will even open up its streaming hardware to third party makers. What it’s doing, though, reflects the natural intersection of the Xbox and the cloud in Microsoft, especially the cloud gaming portion of its subscription service, Xbox Game Pass.
Cloud gaming in Xbox Game Pass began in September 2019, together with Project xCloud. Microsoft started testing xCloud, its cloud-gaming service, rolling out a public beta shortly after. (PCWorld performed its original hands-on xCloud at that moment.) If you are gaming on an Xbox console, you use an Xbox controller to interact with the game running on an Xbox console before you, that you have. With cloud gambling, the Xbox sits in a Microsoft datacenter, and you interact with it via the internet, rather than a Bluetooth connection. You do not own the Xbox; you”rent” it via a Microsoft subscription.
Microsoft has about 18 million associates who have enrolled in Xbox Game Pass, its basic $9. 99/mo subscription support. An undisclosed number of those have signed up for Game Pass Ultimate ($14. 99/ / mo), the service which unlocks Xbox cloud gaming and its 100 cloud-enabled games. (Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is available to test for $1.) Microsoft itself owns 23 game studios also has said it hopes to add one of its games into the services each quarter.
Essentially, Microsoft plans to offer Xbox cloud gaming as a smart TV app, possibly sitting alongside Netflix and Disney+. As long as you’ve got a Xbox controller and an active subscription, then you will be able to play Xbox games on either the TV or Microsoft’s streaming hardware–without the need to buy an Xbox. Xbox Cloud gambling is currently available within an Android app for phones and even Chromebooks, and Microsoft said Thursday that Xbox cloud gaming via the web will be normally available to Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and even Apple Safari browsers in the next few weeks. (That will allow Apple iPhone owners access, also.) With international shortages of game consoles and GPUs in general, this may be great news for gamers.
Streaming games just like Netflix
Some may wonder why a business that generates Microsoft Excel and Visual Studio might have committed so fully to gambling. In response, Microsoft executives notice that its first game, the first Flight Simulator, was actually released before Windows. Cloud gaming is just the next step in gaming’s evolution, according to Microsoft.
“As a company, Microsoft’s all-in on gaming,” Satya Nadella, the chief executive of Microsoft, stated in a pre-recorded video released Thursday. “We believe we can play a leading role in democratizing gaming and defining that future of interactive entertainment, quite frankly, at scale.”
Scale, at Microsoft, means Microsoft’s Azure cloud, made up of tens of thousands of servers housed together at datacenters around the world. Currently, Microsoft is busy incorporating its latest strong Xbox Series X consoles to all those data centers to support Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming, executives said. Cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is currently accessible 41 countries, and will launch in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan later this year, Microsoft said. (The latter is essential for 2 reasons; first, Xbox has ever struggled to compete against Sony’s PlayStation in Japan; second, Japan’s high-speed cellular networks will allow mobile gamers easy access to Xbox games.)
You also need to know that Microsoft has ever explored the duality of what it calls”on prem” and cloud providers. Put another way, Microsoft does not care at which the professional services you get really run. Microsoft 365’s Office apps can be loaded on a PC, but they also run on the web. And, since a corporation, Microsoft enjoys subscriptions, whether it be to Microsoft 365 (formerly Microsoft Office), OneDrive storage, or GitHub.
Microsoft: The cloud won’t kill consoles or PCs
If there is any problem with cloud gaming, it is that latency will still play a role. The”lag” that occurs as you flick the controller’s stick, and as that info is routed up to Microsoft’s cloud–and then again, with all the results displayed on the screen–requires some time. Cloud gaming typically requires a broadband link, and a reactive one at that. Microsoft executives think they have solved this problem using its Azure data centers scattered all around the world. Azure is also part and parcel of many games, period–that the new Flight Simulator, as an example, brings real-time flight and weather information and inserts it into your match. Otherwise, a console or a gaming PC will offer a better overall experience–if you can get one.
Microsoft does have some plans for that, widening its Xbox leasing application, called Xbox All Access, with telecommunications suppliers like Australia’s Telstra. The business also stated that it’s developing new subscription offerings for Xbox Game Pass, therefore more players around the globe can experience the most immersive and fun games across devices, geographies, and fiscal realities. Will there be cheaper