Microsoft’s upcoming E3 show is almost upon us but the company has already revealed some big news. “Xbox is working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions with no extra hardware required except a controller,” states a new post on Xbox.com.
Presumably this will be a version of the Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming (formerly Project xCloud) streaming service rather than trying to jam an entire Xbox Series X in to the back of the latest LG. It’s a big move by Microsoft and could give them a massive boost in the market; if your TV comes with support for playing Xbox Series X|S games, it makes it far easier for people to join the Xbox ecosystem.
“Gaming is fundamentally aligned with our mission as a company,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “When you talk about Xbox’s mission to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet, which I absolutely love, that is precisely aligned with Microsoft’s mission, which is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
“As a company, Microsoft is all-in on gaming. Gaming is the most dynamic category in the entertainment industry. Three billion consumers look to gaming for entertainment, community, creation, as well as a real sense of achievement, and our ambition is to empower each of them, wherever they play.”
Earlier this year Microsoft started testing their Xbox Game Pass Cloud Gaming (formerly Project xCloud) service through a plain old web browser, The Verge reports. The closed beta was limited to Microsoft employees ahead of a public preview, but lays the foundations for an expansion fo Xbox Game Pass to support streaming to PC, Mac and Linux, as well as iPhones and iPads.
Functionally similar to xCloud for Android tablet and phone, the web version lets you browse a library of games with the ability to resume recently played games. You’ll have access to all the games enabled for Cloud Gaming via Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The two requirements are a Chromium-based web browser – Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome are compatible – and a controller in order to play.
While reaching PCs is great, and will allow Microsoft to try and draw owners of lower-powered PCs to the subscription service, letting them play Xbox games that would otherwise require a high-powered gaming PC, the real target in the crosshairs is iOS. Through 2019 and 2020, Apple rebuffed Microsoft’s plans to add Cloud Gaming to their Xbox Game Pass app on iOS, refusing to accommodate game streaming services like Google Stadia, Project xCloud and Amazon Luna in the app store. Apple said Microsoft would need to submit individual games for review, a process that Microsoft labeled a “bad experience for customers.”
This left Microsoft to focus first on Android, where a dedicated app is allowed, but they have now followed in Amazon Luna‘s footsteps and will offer the service as a web app. The move was announced last September, with Microsoft promising Cloud Gaming will come to PC and iOS in Spring 2021. If testing has just started, it’s a sign that the company is on track to meet that target.
Microsoft have steadily broadened the reach of their game streaming service over the last two years, bringing it to more countries, testing on various platforms, and eventually bundling Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming in September for all Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.