Xbox cloud gaming service to be part of its game pass in 2020

Microsoft revealed some exciting news about its Google Stadia competitor, Project xCloud, yesterday. Xbox Game Pass holders will be able to access xCloud as part of their subscription, meaning they will immediately have access to more than 100 games through the platform.
xCloud promotional background
Microsoft’s xCloud won’t be ready for a while yet. Photo: Microsoft/Xbox

Microsoft held its annual Xbox conference in London yesterday, and it gave us some big news to digest.

Alongside a number of new game titles, and the continuation of some old classics like Age of Empires, there was also a big announcement about xCloud.

Microsoft’s competitor to Google Stadia won’t be ready until next year, significantly after the Google platform’s release next Tuesday. But given the assortment of features Google has announced will be missing from Stadia’s Founder’s Edition, this extra preparation time may make all the difference when it comes to providing customers with a full product.

The big news about xCloud

There are still a lot of details we don’t know about xCloud at the moment. But the big piece of news Microsoft announced yesterday is that xCloud will come as part of the Xbox Game Pass subscription.

This will give Game Pass subscribers access to the full range of Game Pass games through xCloud.

xCloud promotional background
xCloud will be available for Xbox Game Pass subscribers. Photo: Microsoft/Xbox

However, Microsoft hasn’t confirmed the specific details of this offer. The wording around the xCloud Game Pass deal suggests that there may be some additional restrictions. Specifically, Microsoft says that xCloud will be “free to discover and play” for Xbox Game Pass subscribers.

According to reports by Ars Technica, Microsoft didn’t provide clarification when asked about xCloud/Game Pass pricing information.

Currently, Game Pass, which has been described as a ‘Netflix for video games’, costs $10 per month. It provides subscribers with access to more than 100 games through the monthly subscription fee.

In contrast to Google Stadia, which will charge a purchase cost for each game, at the moment xCloud looks like it will be a much more wallet-friendly option.

How has the xCloud preview gone down with reviewers?

Tech journalists have had the chance to test xCloud already, and it seems to have gone down well so far.

TechRadar says that the preview system, which is currently only available on Android, is responsive and clear when tested on most game titles.

Only in faster-paced, online games does it show any issues – definitely positive news at this stage in the development process.

Google Stadia
The Google Stadia will be available from November 16. Photo: Marco Verch via Flickr

When will xCloud be released?

Among the many hazy details around Microsoft’s xCloud is the schedule for its release. We’re not even sure about a release month, let alone a release date.

In an interview with The Verge, the best Microsoft’s head of gaming, Phil Spencer, could say was that xCloud will probably be available in 2020. “My expectation is that it will be generally available in 2020,” he said.

Although Stadia will be released much earlier than xCloud, it will give Microsoft time to evaluate how customers respond to Google’s product.

Any shortcomings in the concept, payment method or game titles chosen by Google can be improved upon by Microsoft.

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