Xbox cloud gaming, formerly xCloud: Games, pricing and more you need to know

Lori Grunin/CNET

Microsoft’s has been testing its xCloud cloud-gaming platform, the know-how which is able to allow you to play Xbox games streamed from distant servers in your telephone, for a couple of 12 months. Now we’re coming to the half the place the free trip for testers ends and it is time to pony up for the privilege through a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. And as ceaselessly occurs with many a intelligent challenge title, “xCloud” has been swept into obscurity; Microsoft considers the know-how an integral a part of Xbox Recreation Move Final and now refers to it generically as “cloud gaming.” We’ll hold calling it xCloud, although, at the least till there’s a greater shorthand for it.

How a lot does xCloud value and when can I get it?

Individuals who signed up for the preview can hold taking part in totally free till Sept. 11; when it launches on Sept. 15, you can get it as a part of an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for $15/month (£11/month. Sorry, not accessible but in Australia). Should you’re already an XGP Final subscriber, you may get it mechanically. 

Microsoft says it will likely be accessible in additional methods finally, however hasn’t stated when, how or how a lot. I am guessing a standalone subscription for streaming video games you already personal is on the prime of the listing.

Not like rivals Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now (GFN), there is not any free tier for Xbox’s cloud gaming. Microsoft’s working a first-month-for-$1 (£1) supply which is able to seemingly proceed, and a three-month free trial might be accessible via companions, such as Samsung.

Some individuals think about the truth that Xbox Recreation Move comes as a part of the streaming deal makes it a winner compared with Stadia, which continues to be ramping up on video games and GeForce Now, which is a bring-your-own-game platform.

What units can I play on and what are the necessities?

Any cell gadget working Android 6 (Marshmallow) or higher and has Bluetooth model four or later for a controller, plus a reference to a bandwidth of at the least 10Gbps — on a 5GHz channel in case you’re on Wi-Fi. You possibly can download the app from the Google Play Store or the Samsung Galaxy Store.

Take note, although, that as with all cloud gaming it is about greater than bandwidth. Microsoft would not specify minimal latency or jitter for a playable expertise, and people make an enormous distinction. 

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XGS doesn’t include streaming to PC like Stadia and GFN do, so it’s not a solution for playing on low-power potato PC or playing Windows games on a Mac. You can play XGP games on a PC via the still-in-beta Xbox Game Pass PC, but those are installed and played on your local system.

But what about iOS? Can I play on my iPhone?

Nope. There was a brief beta flirtation with it, but it’s all gone now.

Microsoft isn’t alone here. Apple doesn’t let you play via Google’s Stadia, Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Sony‘s PlayStation Now or any cloud-gaming platforms.


The Razer Kishi is one of the controllers developed specifically for mobile gaming, and there’s a version for xCloud.

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Do I need a controller?

Yes. Only a few games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Gears 5 support touch controls at the moment. But you can use any Xbox-compatible wireless controller with it, you don’t need to buy a specific model endorsed by Microsoft. No keyboard and mouse support, which is unsurprising given that it doesn’t run on any devices you’d use with a keyboard and mouse.

How do I buy games?

You don’t. You can stream many of the games in the Xbox Game Pass subscription library

On the upside, that includes day one play of many new titles from Xbox Game Studios. If you choose to buy a game, your membership entitles you to discounts on titles in the catalog. They all support crossplay with PC and console versions, as well as any crossplay already supported on other platforms, like the Nintendo Switch or PS4.


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What games can I play?

Microsoft says “100+ games” will be available for play on mobile at launch. As of this writing, the beta has 104, many of them Xbox Game Studios titles. Microsoft only formally announced 30 of the launch games:

The list includes some titles that weren’t in the beta, though, such as The Outer Worlds, so hopefully there will be some surprises. But, as with all of these services, games move in and out of the catalog. Those are not pleasant surprises.

Can I chat? What about streaming gameplay?

You can chat in-game with the phone’s mic. To stream gameplay you’ll need a third-party app; there’s no in-game support. That’s too bad, because you could probably get far better quality if you could render and transmit the broadcast stream via the server rather than locally on your phone.

Cancellation policy

If you stop subscribing, you keep your progress and achievements if you buy the game from Microsoft, but obviously lose the ability to play on mobile.

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Lori Grunin