It looks like Microsoft is serious about getting people to play Xbox games on all sorts of devices, and not just consoles, with the company today unveiling its plans for bringing cloud gaming to PCs and web browsers.
According to Microsoft, later this year it will integrate cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app in Windows 10. Using Microsoft’s Azure servers, you’ll be able to stream games instantly onto your Windows 10 PC, as if you were playing an Xbox Series X, with Microsoft’s Kareem Choudrey claiming that the “world’s most powerful console is coming to Azure”.
With Microsoft’s datacenters getting Xbox Series X hardware, people who stream games should get similar experiences to those playing on Microsoft’s new console, including faster load times, and better frame rates on older titles that are now Xbox Series X optimized.
Xbox cloud gaming coming to PC offers up some exciting possibilities. As we’ve seen with game streaming services like Nvidia GeForce Now and Google Stadia, it allows you to run games on older or underpowered hardware, essentially turning them into powerful gaming laptops – as long as you have a good enough internet connection.
This could mean you could dig out an old Windows 10 laptop, log in, and start streaming Halo Infinite when it finally launches later this year.
It could also prove useful for people who have gaming PCs that are already more powerful than the Xbox Series X.
Cloud gaming is part of Xbox Game Pass for PC, which is a subscription service that offers loads of games for you to play. With cloud streaming, you could quickly try out a game by streaming it. If you like what you see, you could then download it to your PC and play it natively. If you don’t like the game, you’ve not wasted time downloading and installing it. As the Xbox Game Pass for PC library grows, which Microsoft promises it will, this feature could become increasingly useful.
Coming to browsers
Microsoft also announced that in the next few weeks, all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members will be able to stream games via their web browsers, including Edge, Chrome and Safari.
This opens up the possibilities of even more devices being able to play Xbox Series X games, including MacBooks, which you’d not typically think of as gaming devices.
Of course, this all depends on how good the streaming service from Microsoft actually is. We’ve seen promising things with Nvidia GeForce Now, which can bring graphically intensive games to devices like Chromebooks, and with Microsoft’s Azure datacenters, which are available in regions around the world, the company is in a good position to deliver on those promises.
It’s also launching ID@Azure, which aims to help independent game developers build cloud-based games. This could end up really setting Microsoft’s cloud gaming service apart from its competitors.