It’s time for Microsoft’s cloud gaming platform to officially move out of preview mode and into the real world. The company announced today that Project xCloud will officially launch on Sept. 15—though just in beta for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members at the moment. However, anyone can sign up for that service and access the 100+ games Microsoft has made accessible through its cloud gaming platform, including Minecraft Dungeons, Destiny 2, Tell Me Why, Gears 5, and Yakuza Kiwami 2.
Game Pass Ultimate is $15 per month, but for new subscribers it’s $1 for the first month. If you’re not already using the service or haven’t already tried out xCloud in Microsoft’s preview, you can take it for a spin for a pretty low price. Games are playable on Android phones and tablets to start, and will require at least a 10 Mbps connection, whether wifi or mobile. (Might want to check out that Razer Kishi.)
Another benefit to making xCloud accessible to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members is that they already have the ability to play over 100 Xbox console games on PC, so this gives users another platform to play games. The same games on that subscription service will also be on xCloud, including Forza Horizon 4, Halo: The Master Chief Collection, The Outer Worlds, and many others.
Cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be available on Android devices in 22 markets at launch, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, according to Microsoft.
Like other cloud gaming platforms, such as Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now, users will need to actually own the game before they can play it. The monthly Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription offers free games, discounts, and other perks, so users might not have to pay anything to play a game in the cloud. But unlike Stadia and GeForce Now, users won’t be able to play games in the cloud on their PC during this beta. Microsoft is testing Project xCloud for PC, and earlier this year it tested xCloud for iOS.
It’s also nice to see that Microsoft is going the way of Nvidia when it comes to how its subscribers purchase games. You only have to buy it once, and then you can play it on whatever device you want. Stadia, however, requires you to buy a separate copy of the game to play it on its platform—which isn’t the most wallet-friendly model. However, Google did just give its Stadia users the option to play games over mobile data (4G or 5G) instead of wifi, and it works pretty well if you have enough bandwidth. Needless to say, we can’t wait to get some hands-on time with Project xCloud and see how that cloud gaming platform performs compared to the competition.