Begun, the game streaming wars have. Microsoft has announced that xCloud, its cloud-based game streaming service now in beta, will be included with its Xbox Game Pass subscription starting in September. That’s a huge boon for a value-packed service that’s already popular among console gamers. It was announced on the official Xbox blog.
To be clear: xCloud game streaming isn’t coming to each and every Xbox Game Pass player. It’s only coming to the “Ultimate” tier, which includes a huge library of downloadable games on both Xbox One and PC, plus Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold online multiplayer service, for $15 a month. On top of that, and without raising the price, xCloud will include access to a library of 100+ Xbox games that can be streamed to the xCloud client on your phone. Presumably once September rolls around, the service will be available to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in supported countries—no need to get into the limited preview.
During the closed beta xCloud is pretty limited, only compatible with Android phones—no PCs, browsers, TVs, iOS devices, or even the Xbox One itself, though iPhone compatibility has been in extremely selective testing for a few months. It’s also limited to just a few countries: the US, Canada, UK, South Korea, and most of the countries in Western Europe.
But with streaming game competition heating up from Sony’s PlayStation Now, Google’s Stadia, NVIDIA’s GeForce NOW, and rumors of new streaming platforms from Amazon and Steam, you have to think Microsoft is looking to expand xCloud fast as the launch of the next-gen Xbox Series X approaches. Its announcement of “100+ Xbox games” is already doubling the preview library.