Xbox Cloud Gaming: Streaming Games According to Microsoft

Do you play Xbox titles without a console or on a smartphone or TV? This is possible with Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Games, which offers a streaming game mode. A system that will revolutionize the world of video games.

In recent years, Microsoft has gradually implemented a completely new strategy in the video game market. While the ruthless war pits it against Sony in the field of the new generation of consoles – the PS5 and Xbox Series X, which regularly run out of stock – the American giant is seeking to attract new players to its online services in order to offer them. A completely different way to play: game streaming. A technological revolution changes everything.

The streaming game takes several principles from video or music-on-demand services – such as Netflix, Disney +, Amazon Prime, Deezer, Spotify, etc. First, you pay not to have a physical copy of a work, as with a DVD or CD, but to have access to a catalog with a very large number of movies, series or music for a monthly fee. The same goes for game streaming: for a monthly subscription, you can access our video game catalog. Then, as with VOD services, once you have an account, you can enjoy it on different devices: your game console or computer, but also your smartphone, tablet or TV! You can start a game on a stationary device, at home, and follow it on mobile, on the train or bus. magic!

This second feature is related to the technical side of broadcasting, to its core. The device that supports the game – computer, console, TV, mobile … – calculates almost nothing: it is used in practice only to display and send game images that are computed remotely by specialized servers in real time. For simplicity, the device functions as a monitor and only as a control device. All heavy processing, which requires powerful processors, especially for graphics, is done remotely on servers.

To enjoy the game in live streaming or cloud gaming, all you need is a fast internet connection and a screen with controls: computer, box, connected TV, smartphone or tablet. But even if the server is doing everything, you still have to limit the latency between the server and the player as much as possible because games are inherently interactive, unlike movies or music: so they require an optimal response since it is not possible to preload data, especially For online multiplayer games.

Streaming games on smartphones and tablets © Microsoft

On the principle of game streaming, Microsoft has built Xbox Cloud Gaming, a service that allows games to be played on all platforms. To take advantage of it, you have to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass, a service launched in 2017 that gives access to a catalog of games for a monthly payment. An especially interesting offer when you know the prices of prepackaged games, especially since the Xbox catalog offers hundreds of titles, including blockbuster movies. But, as with Netflix, games are regularly added and removed from the catalog, with some games becoming inaccessible. This is the main drawback of this system and it is similar to leasing. Hence it is necessary to buy them “hard” to continue playing there. Naturally, once you cancel the subscription, you can no longer access any game, as is the case for movies and series on SVOD platforms!

Microsoft currently offers three plans for Xbox Game Pass.

  • Xbox Game Pass for console : Offers access to a well-stocked catalog of console games (on Xbox One and on Xbox Series S or Series X) as well as discounts and access to Xbox Game Studios games on release day, all at €9.99 per month.
  • Xbox Game Pass for PC : It’s exactly the same offer, but for PC games, again for 9.99 euros per month.
  • Xbox Game Pass Ultimate : Offers special benefits plus access to the entire catalog on all platforms, including hundreds of games available to stream from the cloud on all platforms – the popular Cloud Gaming – for €12.99 per month.

What do you expect from Microsoft about game streaming? Currently, Xbox Cloud Gaming is limited to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate catalog of games and access to Fortnite without a subscription. However, as announced at the What’s Next for Gaming event in 2022, Microsoft wants to expand the reach of cloud gaming. Please note, however, that not all games from the Xbox Store will be available to play in Cloud Gaming. There is currently only a ‘select selection’ of live-compatible games.

Xbox Cloud Gaming interface on TV © Microsoft

The American giant appears to be continuing this path as it has just revealed the Xbox Keystone, a small console designed solely for the Xbox Cloud Gaming. In addition, Microsoft revealed via its official website that from the end of June, recent models of connected TVs sold by Samsung, as well as models of the Korean brand’s Neo QLED, released in 2022, will integrate the Xbox app. Other brands are expected to receive the app in the coming weeks and months.

The competition is more advanced on these broadcasting issues. Cloud gaming offerings from Google Stadia and Amazon’s Luna can be accessed through private chests. But Microsoft has an edge in its game catalog, which is much richer. For Sony, its PlayStation Plus offering only gives access to a limited selection of console or PC games, not smartphones, unlike Microsoft. Also note that the Xbox Cloud Gaming service, which is still in full development, is available in 28 countries, including France.

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