Microsoft released some new data on Thursday on the number of video game players accessing games via the cloud on just their smartphones with no controller attached. The company said 20% of Xbox Cloud Gaming users rely on built-in touch controls to access games on its cloud service, and that implementing native touch controls is a fast way for developers to boost play time.
"Touch Controls with Xbox Cloud Gaming enable players to enjoy games wherever they are by removing the need for a console, PC, or controller," Monty Hernandez, a senior program manager at Xbox, wrote in a blog post. "We have seen a tangible increase in usage and user sentiment across different genres for games that have implemented touch controls."
Hernandez said the Xbox Cloud Gaming team sees a twofold increase in usage for games that have touch controls rather than those that rely on an attached controller via Bluetooth or USB. For some games, like Supergiant's indie roguelike hit Hades and Microsoft's own Minecraft Dungeons, Hernandez said more than 30% of players exclusively play the game on their smartphone screens with touch controls. In October, Microsoft said that more than 100 games on its Xbox Game Pass platform now support touch controls.
Microsoft releasing this data is partly a strategic move. The company wants to incentivize developers both to join Xbox Game Pass and to make their game available to stream through the company's cloud gaming service on all types of devices, including smaller smartphone screens where players might want to play using touch controls. Implementing touch controls isn't a terribly time-consuming process in most cases, but it does involve some initiative from the developer to work with Microsoft and its tools to pull it off.
By releasing these stats that show just how large of the Xbox Cloud Gaming player base is interested in mobile-first gaming, Microsoft might convince a few more developers to put the time and effort in. And supporting these players also makes Xbox Game Pass more attractive, as growing that subscription service is Microsoft's primary strategy for expanding the Xbox platform going forward.