Imagine this: You’re over at your best friend’s house going through their Xbox library. They’ve been wanting to try out one of the latest, hyped-up first-person shooters, but they don’t own it. You do, but it’s through a cloud gaming service. It doesn’t look great on your phone, and your friend doesn’t have a Chromecast Ultra.
“We can play it on the Xbox,” they tell you.
You’re hesitant. You know you can play Xbox games in the cloud on the Xbox, but games on other services? Sounds suspect. But you and your friend fire the game up in a browser on the Xbox, and to your astonishment, it works.
This isn’t a hypothetical scenario. The Verge recently experimented with running Google Stadia via the Microsoft Edge browser on the newest Xbox, and it apparently works. Google does push Stadia subscribers to use its Chrome browser, but Stadia runs just fine on Microsoft Edge because it’s a Chromium-based browser. Chromium, of course, is Google’s free, open-source software project, so it makes sense it would just work. Stadia is compatible with Xbox controllers, and according to The Verge, that also works seamlessly on the Xbox.
The Chromium version of Edge is only available to Xbox Insiders at the moment, but having this sort of cross-compatibility with other cloud gaming platforms is a compelling reason to sign up if you haven’t already. But why would anyone want, or need, to play Stadia from their Xbox? It seems counter intuitive, but that’s the beauty of cloud gaming: You’re supposed to be able to play games literally anywhere from any device.
Because Stadia and Amazon’s Luna work in the Edge browser, and the Edge browser seems to be working just fine via Xbox, you don’t need to own a Chromecast Ultra or even a Stadia controller. It’s the same with Luna—you don’t need a Fire TV Stick or a Luna controller to play on your TV when it works without those things. You can also link your Stadia and Luna accounts to your Ubisoft account, so you can play any of those games in the cloud via your Xbox. Not even the PS5 can do that. There might be a “secret” browser, but it’s not a Chromium-based browser.
Cloud gaming platforms are still fragmented right now, with nearly every major tech company offering its own service. Naturally, there are financial incentives to doing so, but browser compatibility is making games a little more accessible to those who would otherwise not want to invest in more hardware required to play those games. If you’re part of the Xbox Insiders program and want to give Stadia or Luna a shot, you can do so without buying any new equipment.
As someone who primarily games on PC, that’s enough to make me seriously think about getting a new Xbox.