Xbox announced this morning its cloud gaming platform is nearly ready for Edge, Google Chrome, and Safari browsers. Starting tomorrow, the company will send out a limited number of invites to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in 22 countries to take part in the beta.
Game Pass Ultimate subscribers invited to take part in the beta will have access to any Xbox cloud-enabled game on PC or iOS. It also seems possible macOS users will be able to access Xbox games via the cloud using one of those browsers.
Those invited will be able to visit xbox.com/play starting tomorrow with a compatible browser. Beta invitees will also need a compatible Bluetooth or USB-connected controller to play Xbox games in their browser. Alternatively, those on iOS can use custom touch controls on games with that option enabled—currently, more than 50 games do.
Following in the footsteps of Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Google Stadia, and Amazon Luna, Xbox Cloud Gaming is the last major cloud gaming platform to become available to users via web browser. It’s also the first time anyone will be able to play Xbox games on an Apple device, an especially important milestone.
While Apple allows cloud gaming apps on its app store, it requires each game supported by the app to be individually submitted for review even though the games themselves aren’t downloaded directly to the device. Making the platform work from within popular internet browsers is the only alternative option. If Microsoft does it right, Xbox Cloud Gaming could run as smooth as Stadia on iOS.
There’s no official launch date for Xbox Cloud Gaming on Windows 10 and iOS, but Xbox it says its plan is to “open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months.” There’s also no reason to expect Xbox Game Pass for PC will go away. Cloud gaming is heavily dependent on a good internet connection, and without it, playing on a local machine (PC or console) is the only way to run those games without all the lag, jitter, packet loss, and other downfalls that comes with trying to play games over the cloud with an unstable internet connection.
But while the number of games available on Xbox Game Pass for PC compared to Xbox Cloud Gaming is nearly identical, not all of the same games are available on both. For instance, classics like Banjo-Kazooie and Fable 2 are only available via Xbox Cloud Gaming. With the platform expanding to Edge, Chrome, and Safari, PC games not available though Xbox Game Pass will now be playable via a desktop or laptop instead of just a mobile device.
Update 4/19/21 2:15 PM ET: A Microsoft spokesperson clarified that Xbox Cloud Gaming via browser will only focus on controller support, and keyboard and mouse support is still being explored. Additionally, Microsoft said the Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) browser experience is “currently optimized for Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets,” so it’s still not clear if or how well it will work on Safari for macOS.