September 16, 2020 | 15:00
Microsoft's xCloud games streaming service is now available in 22 countries worldwide, providing you have an Android tablet or phone to use it with.
Bundled as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which provides access to a plethora of Xbox One and PC games, xCloud goes one step further in Microsoft's plan for seemingly never allowing us to get away from our games collection. Through it, you'll have access to over 150 games in all. You can stream big hits like Gears 5, The Witcher III, and Forza Horizon 4 to your Android tablet or phone, no matter where you are, providing you have an internet connection. The service also offers numerous lesser-known titles like Untitled Goose Game, Carrion, and Spiritfarer.
It's quite an impressive-sounding service if you have the kit and a strong enough internet connection for it. In theory, it means you can easily play a game while on the bus or simply on the sofa. Basically, anywhere that you wouldn't normally be playing an Xbox One or PC game. Wherever you go, your Xbox Profile should follow you so you can easily pick up where you left off.
The catch? As mentioned, you'll need an Android phone or tablet. iPhone and iPad owners will miss out while Apple is a little weird and refuses to allow such services through its devices (while still allowing the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime Video). That could change in the future given some complicated discussions between Microsoft and Apple but for now - nope.
Also, you'll need a controller to connect to your device. Microsoft is working on touch controls for games with the first game to offer such support being Minecraft Dungeons, but we can't see anything beating the tactile nature of a true controller.
Still, if you want to stick with it, Microsoft has demonstrated Gears 5 touch controls as well as Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice so it is coming but it sounds immediately awkward to us.
CVP of Cloud Gaming at Microsoft, Kareem Choudhry, also used the time to boast of the benefits of social elements like cross-play multiplayer, friends lists, achievements, and voice chat. It sounds like the hope for xCloud is to bring the full Xbox One experience to your phone and it's hard to be cynical just yet. While we can't see it being as intuitive or as comfortable as sitting in front of your TV or monitor, it could be a useful bonus, especially if you commute regularly.
The Xbox Game Pass mobile app is available now on the Google Play Store with Samsung Galaxy users getting a souped-up version of the service.
September 18 2020 | 18:30