Microsoft held another pre-E3 video event overnight / yesterday (depending on where you are), with Head of Xbox Phil Spencer and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella walking us through the future of Xbox gaming – which very much includes the end of needing to own an Xbox to play.
Xbox has foregrounded new options like Xbox Cloud Gaming a lot recently, and it will officially launch locally later this year. As long as you have an Xbox Game Pass subscription, the cloud service lets you log in and play all the games within the free library and other games you own through mobile devices, laptops and soon it will be basically any screen you can get your hands on.
(Except iPhones because Apple is at war with services being able to offer unfettered access to alternate ‘App Store’ experiences, and they’re including libraries of games that would never be playable as a direct app – but that’s a different story and Microsoft is working on getting it running within the Safari app so you might never have to worry about that issue anyway…)
They also announced efforts to get Xbox streaming built into smart TVs so that all you’ll need is a controller and an Xbox Game Pass subscription to play. Importantly, the discussion also went into the upgrades taking place in Microsoft’s global data centres to ensure they are essentially running Xbox Series X hardware to deliver this new cloud focus for Xbox.
An important point often overlooked is that cloud streaming your games isn’t just about getting access to games when you’re not near your Xbox. For a lot of folks with an older laptop (doesn’t even have to be that old), a streaming experience could deliver games at a graphics tier well above what their local hardware would be capable of. So there’s huge potential for the long term here.