The open beta of Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service released today, September 15th 2020, in 22 countries. xCloud allows you play over 150 games on your phone or tablet. Since the service began its beta testing in November 2019 (AKA before the dark times), there have been many developments leading to its release. Here’s an up to date to list on everything you should know before trying the subscription service.
What Mobile Devices xCloud is on
Let’s get the tricky part out of the way first. xCloud is only available on Android devices with version 6.0 or higher. Despite efforts by Microsoft to get xCloud on IOS devices, Apple is only allowing its App Store to offer each game as its own separate app. Since Microsoft’s model is to use one app as a hub for all Game Pass titles, obviously what Apple is offering wouldn’t work. This led to Microsoft putting out a statement that Apple’s arrangement is a “bad experience for customers.” So if you’re looking for xCloud to come to iOS devices, you could be waiting a long while yet.
xCloud is a Part of Xbox’s Game Pass Ultimate
If you have Game Pass Ultimate, you can play already. As in, today, you, the subscriber of Game Pass, now are a subscriber to xCloud. Congrats. If you’re not a Game Pass subscriber, it’s only one dollar to try for the first month. After that, its 15 dollars a month for Game Pass Ultimate, which also includes an Xbox Live Gold subscription.
What You’ll Need for xCloud
Outside of a Wi-Fi or LTE internet connection with a relatively fast download speed (Microsoft recommends 10MB a second) and a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, you’ll need a couple of other things: the xCloud app on your device and a Bluetooth or USB compatible controller. There are several 3rd party Bluetooth controllers you can use with XCloud, or you can just use a wireless Xbox one or even PS4 Dualshock controller, both of which can be used with USB cords. Microsoft is currently working on getting touch controls for as many games as possible, but not many will have them at launch.
On that note, you may also want to go ahead get some sort of stand to hold your device while a controller is your hands. Unless you want to strain your neck, that is.
How xCloud Works
You’ll still be able to play and save all your games’ progress, achievements, and everything else associated with your Microsoft account. This means you can save a game on your console and jump right back in on your device. You’ll also be able to play multiplayer games through Xbox Live, which opens up possibilities for a different kind of couch co-op, with the portability of phones and tablets helping to keep players in one room while on separate devices and/or consoles.
The Name is Actually Not xCloud, Kind of
Well, the Xbox page for it doesn’t say that, just “cloud gaming.” Called “Project xCloud” internally by Microsoft at first, it seems like this is a case of the internet finding this out and keeping the name going for convenience. Possibly this is for the best, since Microsoft seems to have some trouble with naming things clearly of late. But a rose by any other name is still a rose, and so it is with xCloud.
Featured image and video courtesy of Microsoft.