Microsoft plans to bring its cloud gaming service to Xbox consoles this holiday season, the company announced during its Gamescom live stream on Tuesday. The goal is to give players the ability to try Game Pass titles instantly before they download them, as well as to allow owners of older, less powerful Xbox hardware to play newer, more graphically intensive software, like Microsoft Flight Simulator, through the cloud.
"We've been listening to our gamers and have heard their feedback loud and clear: They want to try new games fast without waiting for an install to finish," said Catherine Gluckstein, Microsoft's vice president and head of product and strategy for Xbox Cloud Gaming, in a statement. "Xbox Cloud Gaming (beta) on Xbox consoles lets you play new games faster than ever, optimizing space and saving you time."
Microsoft announced back in June as part of its virtual E3 presentation that it would be expanded its Xbox Game Pass subscription to many more platforms using the cloud. At the time, the company confirmed the list would include smart TVs, streaming sticks and Xbox consoles both old and new. While there's still no date yet on when Microsoft plans to release its own streaming devices or support smart TVs, we now know Xbox support is coming by the end of the year.
Cloud gaming represents one of Microsoft's most critical business strategies for succeeding in the gaming industry and better competing with its primary competitor, PlayStation. While Sony has focused on building out a library of exclusive games, some of which are only playable on its new PlayStation 5, Microsoft has shifted its priorities to supporting its Xbox Game Pass subscription and delivering that service on as many screens as possible. When a device doesn't have the components to support native play, Microsoft is leaning on the cloud to deliver it through streaming.
Microsoft hopes that by supporting everything from iPhones and iPads to laptops and older Xbox hardware it can sign up more Game Pass subscribers and bring more players into the Xbox ecosystem. Right now, it's still hard to find new Xbox hardware due to supply constraints. So it makes sense for Microsoft to use its cloud gaming service to support existing Xbox owners, while also giving Game Pass subscribers more perks, like being able to try games before downloading them, to keep people signed up. Plus, with ever-growing game file sizes, streaming may become a viable alternative to deleting games to free up space on a local hard drive.