Microsoft announced that it’s developing its own streaming stick that would bring Xbox games to millions of users through its xCloud service. The company also revealed it’s working with TV manufacturers to embed Xbox Game Pass into smart TVs, with no extra hardware required except a controller.
“Cloud gaming is truly a breakthrough experience,” said Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella in a video released by Microsoft. “It’s a really fast, easy way to get into gaming.”
The idea of a streaming stick that tied to its cloud gaming service has been in the news for quite some time. In fact, last year Head of Xbox Philip Spencer teased that Microsoft might make an Xbox-branded streaming stick. As of now, Microsoft isn’t providing details on the release date or pricing of the streaming stick. But it looks like the device could either be a Chromecast-like streaming stick or an Apple TV-like box.
“We believe that Microsoft can play a leading role in democratizing gaming and defining the future of interactive entertainment,” said Nadella. “ There are really three key areas where we believe we have an incredible competitive advantage: First, our leadership in cloud computing. Second, the resources we have to build our subscription service, Xbox Game Pass. And third, our overall focus on empowering creators.”
This move is very similar to how Google’s Stadia and Amazon’s Luna services are trying to make the gaming experience more inclusive, though Xbox’s brand appeal gives Microsoft an advantage over the other two companies. Microsoft’s plans for the future indicate a shift in the way people play games. The company seems to be moving away from relying on its consoles to bring in revenue, to betting on its Game Pass subscription service and xCloud streaming technology.
Microsoft is aiming to create an Xbox ecosystem and let users choose whether they want a console, a smartphone, or a TV to play Xbox games. “We believe that games, that interactive entertainment, aren’t really about hardware and software. It’s not about pixels,” said Philip Spencer. “It’s about people. Games bring people together.”
In the next few weeks, Microsoft’s xCloud gaming service will be available to all members of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate through Google Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Microsoft’s own Edge browsers. To increase the appeal of Game Pass, Microsoft recently acquired ZeniMax, the parent company of Bethesda, for $7.5 billion. With Bethesda, Microsoft hopes to expand the Xbox Game Pass catalogue by adding hit game franchises like Doom, Fallout and The Elder Scrolls. The aim is to bring exclusive and first-party games to Xbox Game Pass.
Words by Denitsa Gencheva
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