Microsoft xCloud Streaming Game Service Now Live

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Microsoft’s cloud gaming service, xCloud, has officially left beta testing, debuting Tuesday for all Xbox Game Pass user. After several months of testing, the xCloud gaming service is officially off the ground and available to Android users across a wide array of Android based devices. Microsoft officially announced the news on Monday, Sept 14th.

Microsoft published the names of about 150 games that are now available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to be played via streaming starting on Sept 15th. The service will be available in 22 countries. If you are a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, than you already have access to the service at no additional charge. If you aren’t already a Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, at $14.99 a month, Game Pass Ultimate offers a impressive library of “free to play” games from both Microsoft’s various first-party game developers (ie the game developers contracted with Microsoft) as well as a assortment of third-party games.

The list of titles that are available via xCloud include :

  • State of Decay 2 : Juggernaut Edition
  • Grounded
  • Minecraft: Dungeons
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Sea of Thieves : Anniversary Edition
  • Nier:Automata
  • Halo 5: Guadians
  • Halo Wars 1 & 2
  • Halo: The Master Chief Edition
  • Halo: Spartan Assault
  • Gears of War 1, 4, & 5
  • Untitled Goose Game

A full list can be viewed on Microsoft’s news page.

Image Credit : Microsoft

The Microsoft xCloud service requires a few things to function properly. The user must have downloaded the title they wish to stream to their own internet connected Xbox One console. The user must have a supported Android device and have installed the Xbox Game Pass (beta) app on their device. Note that many Android phones and tablets are supported, but you may find that some older Android devices with out of date operating systems do not support the Xbox Game Pass app, and if this is not available in the Play Store or otherwise, streaming will not be available.

The service also requires a bluetooth supported Xbox controller or other compatible bluetooth game controller. I number of tested and approved accessories are available at the Microsoft store, which include third party controllers, mounts, and stands for controller and mobile device alike.

Unfortunately iPhone users suffered disappointment earlier this summer over the early termination of Microsoft’s Apple supported xCloud project due to complications related to the app store developer guidelines, however more recent news, with some changes to the guidelines, may be re-opening the door on possible support for not only xCloud, but other game streaming services, aside from its own Apple Arcade, in general.

Microsoft’s xCloud service does face some competition in this marketplace, as Google has been operating its Google Stadia Game Streaming services for some time now. (We got a chance to unbox and review a Stadia Controller recently, and here is what we thought.) Additionally, the Playstation Now service, which offers a streaming library of hundreds of games dating all the way back to PS 2 content. The monthly subscription fee service is very mature, with support of streaming from both PlayStation 4 consoles and Windows based PCs, an upgrade to xCloud that is in the works, but may not be available for several months.

To expand its library of titles of xCloud, Microsoft also announced yesterday that, coming this holiday season to xCloud, “some of the best EA Play games will be available for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Members to play on Android devices via the cloud at no additional charge.” Whether these EA games will be here to stay is unclear. Its also unclear if a longer-term partnership with EA is in the works, and whether they will rotate through EA’s sizable collection of titles. EA has their EA Play and EA Play Pro gaming subscription services, which stand alone from Game Pass. Similar to Game Pass, EA Play subscribers pay a monthly fee for access to EA’s catalog of games. Its possible that there is something in the works between the two gaming giants. Its also wouldn’t be surprising if Microsoft and EA were to offer some sort of an “add-on” option to Game Pass, in a similar manner to the way video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu now offer add-on packages to the base service for other premium services. Of course, this is nothing more than mere speculation.

We are in the process of testing xCloud services out, so keep your browser pointed here for more details and a review of what we think of xCloud in the coming days.

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*Grumble* iPhone developer agreement *grumble*

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