Microsoft has formally announced that its official Xbox Cloud Gaming platform (xCloud) is set to arrive on Xbox consoles later this year. The Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and Xbox Series S consoles will all be able to use the xCloud gaming service in time for the holiday season, with the cloud-gaming integration enabling Xbox users to select Xbox Game Pass games before streaming them on their console.
This news should blissfully whet many gamers' appetites – it certainly has my own. Having personally been stung by this year's seemingly endless Xbox restock saga, I'm stoked to soon get the chance to simply be able to pick up an Xbox Pass Game and start streaming it before deciding to buy it. That saves time, data, and allows me to virtually try any game before handing over cash.
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Making the formal announcement during the annual Gamescon event, which has also shown off some tasty Forza Horizon 5 reveals, Xbox said that it was “bringing cloud gaming to Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One this holiday, enabling Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to play 100+ games right from the cloud and discover new games with the click of a button.”
From the get-go, then, you'll likely find me sat down during the holiday season, working my way through the 100 myriad Xbox Game Pass titles available, which comprise the first flurry of games from Microsoft’s xCloud integration. What’s more: not only can I endlessly flick between various Xbox Game Pass titles, but I can dip into and sample multiplayer games galore with invites from my mates. I carry no personal shame in admitting that this likely means a series of marathon Minecraft multiplayer sessions – but really the list is endless as there's an abundance of multiplayer gems to be played with the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.
Full details of the service can be found over on the Xbox blog. Microsoft is set to update its Xbox dashboard on compatible consoles to include a small cloud icon, which displays games that can be streamed. Any compatible Xbox Cloud Gaming video games can be streamed up to 1080p and 60fps, to encourage users to try the games before they buy.
While currently lacking a 4K option, Microsoft is right not to be hung up on this; instead, the impetus is on marketing xCloud as a means to enable gamers to trial a range of games ahead of purchasing them, rather than relying on dazzling graphics. With so many titles to unearth anew and old gems to rediscover from the best Xbox One games, I certainly count myself as a fully signed-up member of this kind of xCloud gamer, part of a wider cohort of enthusiasts seeking an effective 'try before you buy' option.
While there's little doubt in my eyes that the xCloud integration will be a real boon to the swathes of 'try before you buy' users like me, there's always a cost no matter the service. If you're interested in accessing this nifty new cloud setup, then you'll need to have an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription. An Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 a month, and it will provide complete access to the Xbox Cloud Gaming setup. It's a sum that feels like excellent value considering that it prises open the door to a goldmine of cloud-gaming content.
Those who've not yet managed to get their hands on the latest Xbox console (and are still reliant on their trusty Xbox One), will also get the added bonus of being able to play next-gen games like Microsoft Flight Simulator on their Xbox One setups. This is a big deal in light of the hardware drought that continues to baffle retailers and users alike.
Might it also go some way to placate Xbox fans further afield? Not only do many gamers depend exclusively on the web to source their consoles, but must now also contend with the specter of skilled scalpers using bots to ransack retailers' inventory, as well as the wider global stock shortage. And all of this is before buyers have even had a chance to join a virtual queue to be in with a chance of bagging an Xbox Series X. xCloud, then, could be a godsend for all of these crestfallen gamers – myself included – starved of their all-important gaming leisure time this year through no fault of their own. Christmas is, after all, a time for miracles – and we're overdue some good tidings from the gaming sector.
Remember, Xbox Insiders will be able to access the new Xbox Cloud Gaming platform this fall ahead of its wider release, with Microsoft set to unveil testing details in the near future. Expect more updates when we have more to hand.