There’s a new Xbox app available for Android devices, and currently going through certification on iOS, that adds a really interesting new feature for ardent gamers: the ability to remotely install games. Any games. Even ones you don’t own.
The feature is quite a minor tweak in the grand scheme of things, but it’s a useful new tool for gamers when games can take a mind-numbingly long time to download or install from disc. Now, you’re probably not going to just randomly download games that you have no intention of playing, but it’s a great tweak for gamers who still want to buy their games on disc. You can pre-order the game from your chosen retailer, download from Microsoft, get the day one updates as soon as they’re available and then simply pop the disc in when it arrives and start playing.
You can download the new Xbox app (which is currently in beta) from the Google Play Store.
The feature was confirmed by users on Resetera earlier this week, and has also been demonstrated for future games like Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, downloading a 100MB placeholder file until such a time as the Xbox can download the rest of the game date once it’s gone gold.
Here's proof that I didn't preorder Valhalla, but I can install it through the new Xbox preload functionality. For now, you need Xbox (beta) Android app to initiate the download. Now I can either purchase a 💿 version or the digital one. Either way, the game will be ready. https://t.co/1QR52YWsub pic.twitter.com/TgmO3rfUBk
— Jerko Cilas 🐧 (@DarthChillash) September 23, 2020
Essentially, it’s formalising the role that discs have had for much of the current generation. Yes, they come stuffed with 50GB of data (or more on next-gen), but you have to install games to the console hard drive and games often transform and expand dramatically through patches. That day one Destiny 2 disc? Well, it’s literally just an unlock key. Always has been, really.
This is all part of Microsoft’s revamped Xbox app for mobile. Currently in a beta release, it will adopt the new UI design that is coming to all current Xbox consoles alongside the launch of the Xbox Series X | S, and is intended to have deeper connections to the consoles. You’ll be able to set up a new console using the smartphone app, for example, any time you hit the Share button, you’ll be able to then watch it and decide how you want to share it from the app, and there’s all the messaging, achievement and other features you’d expect.
The app will also build in Remote Play streaming from Xbox consoles, finally enabling a long-promised feature. This isn’t the same as the Cloud Streaming from Xbox Game Pass – a separate but connected app – but streaming from the console you own. Because of this particular distinction, the Xbox app should be able to pass through Apple’s iOS certification and rules, unlike the ill-fated Game Pass streaming.