Microsoft has been testing its Project xCloud game streaming platform throughout the past year, and today Microsoft announced xCloud will leave beta and become available to the public in September as an addition to Xbox’s $15 a month Game Pass Ultimate.
Just don’t get too attached to the xCloud name though, because while Microsoft has picked out a launch window, in an interview with the Verge, Xbox chief Phil Spencer said “We actually don’t have the final name just yet, but it won’t be Project xCloud.”
With so many game companies looking to double down on their subscription services, bundling xCloud in with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate looks to be a not-so-subtle way of adding even more value to Microsoft’s top-tier monthly plan. In addition to xCloud (which will only be available through Game Pass Ultimate at launch), Game Pass Ultimate also includes Xbox Live Gold (which you need to play games online), access to Xbox Game Pass which allows you to play a rotating library of more than 100 games on demand, and a selection of exclusive perks and discounts for $15 a month.
Currently, aside from a very limited test featuring Halo: The Masterchief Collection on iOS, the xCloud beta is only available on Android phones and tablets, though going forward, Microsoft has yet to commit to a specific set of supported platforms or devices, with Spencer saying “We want to bring xCloud, eventually, to every screen that someone can stream games to. Right now we’re just saying mobile. There are discussions going on and we’re working through things. We’ll talk more specifically about which mobile devices through August and the September launch.” It also remains to be seen what kind of support xCloud will have for third-party controllers and accessories like Sony’s Dual Shock 4.
To help support an influx of users, Microsoft has recently been beefing up its data centers by adding Xbox One S blades to help stream games out to xCloud users, with Microsoft planning on upgrading its servers with Xbox Series X hardware starting in 2021.
Also, before xCloud goes public in September, Microsoft is planning to showcase more games that will be heading to xCloud as part of its Xbox Series X event next week, with additional news and announcements expected to drop throughout August.
While streaming games from the cloud is still sort of a niche way to get your entertainment, with Stadia’s one year anniversary quickly coming up in November and Microsoft and Sony also trying to bulk up their own game streaming services, it’s clear the cloud gaming trend isn’t going away anytime soon.
In the meantime, if you don’t want to wait for xCloud’s public release, you can sign up to test it out for yourself here.