Microsoft has announced that sixteen more games have been added to Xbox Cloud Gaming (née Project xCloud) as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, but there’s a twist: these are all original Xbox or Xbox 360 games featured in the Xbox backward compatibility program.
Xbox Cloud Gaming is currently available for Android smartphones and tablets, however, Microsoft has begun the testing necessary to bring the service to Windows and iOS, doing so via web browsers for ease on PC and in order to circumvent Apple’s restrictions on the iPhone and iPad App Store. It’s expected to launch this spring.
The sixteen games are as follows:
- Double Dragon Neon
- Fable II
- Fallout: New Vegas
- Gears of War 2
- Gears of War 3
- Gears of War: Judgment
- Jetpac Refuelled (touch controls enabled)
- Perfect Dark
- Perfect Dark Zero
- The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
- Viva Piñata (touch controls enabled)
- Viva Piñata: TIP (touch controls enabled)
The selection of games leans quite heavily on games from the Rare Replay compilation, including a pair of Banjo Kazooie games, both Perfect Dark games, and the very chilled Viva Piñata. The latter two are playable with touch controls, which is a nice touch. If you want something meatier, this update means that the entire Gears of War third person shooter series is playable on your phone, and you’ve got three of Bethesda’s most highly regarded RPGs to play as well.
Now you might be asking, “Is this really backward compatibility? It’s being streamed from somewhere else entirely, so how can that possibly be backward compatibility? You don’t call PS3 games on PS Now backward compatibility do you, eh? EH?!”
Well… yes it kind of is backward compatibility when considered within its own particular bubble. Xbox Cloud Gaming servers use customised servers featuring Xbox One S chips to run the games natively, with their video outputs encoded and then beamed across the internet. These 16 games would be running on those servers using the same backward compatibility emulation layers that you can run on your Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S at home. Also, it’s a handy bit of marketing to emphasise Microsoft’s backward compatibility program in general. Just try not to think too hard about how some of these games were originally released for N64…