Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming is now widely available on iOS and PC

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The Verge 28 June, 2021 - 02:12pm 37 views

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Microsoft says that on PCs, xCloud can be accessed through the Edge browser and Google Chrome. We’ve gotten it to work within macOS on Microsoft Edge and Safari. More than 100 games are available, and the service is compatible with Bluetooth controllers or ones connected via USB. On iOS, it’ll work as a web-based app via Safari, and you’ll have a choice between a controller or touch controls for certain games. Microsoft also shared in its blog post that xCloud is now powered by Xbox Series X consoles, setting the streaming at 1080p at up to 60 frames per second with a fast enough internet connection.

Starting today, Xbox Cloud Gaming is running on custom Xbox Series X hardware, and available to all @XboxGamePass Ultimate members with Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets, via browser, across 22 countries. https://t.co/HYuvbHGBUg #XboxGamePass

The road to getting xCloud on iOS was a bumpy one, with Apple’s App Store guidelines initially blocking not just Microsoft but also Google’s Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud streaming services from launching on the App Store. Apple eventually carved out some loopholes to allow them to operate via the web (but not without caveats).

To celebrate the launch, Microsoft put its “Designed for Xbox” badge on one of the best mobile gaming accessories around: Backbone’s One controller. This new version is physically identical to the preexisting model that has been available since late 2020 because it’s technically the same. What’s changed is the physical packaging that now calls out its Xbox compatibility, and despite no increase in price ($99.99), it comes with a complimentary three-month trial to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for new members, which usually costs $45 on its own. It’s available through the Microsoft Store and Backbone’s website. Razer’s revised version of the Kishi controller for iPhone has monochrome buttons and also includes a Game Pass Ultimate trial for new users. You can read my colleague Sam Byford’s review of that one here.

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Forza Horizon 5: Let’s ¡Go! – Episode 2

Forza 28 June, 2021 - 03:10pm

Xbox Cloud Gaming now available on Apple devices

Polygon 28 June, 2021 - 02:55pm

Available via browsers for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers

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Now, any Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber can access the service through the Xbox website via www.xbox.com/play. From there, players can access a selection of games directly in their browser, with some options available between controller or touch-based play. With this announcement, Microsoft also said it’s improved the cloud gaming experience by upgrading its data centers with “custom Xbox Series X hardware.” Catherine Gluckstein, Xbox Cloud Gaming vice president and head of product, said this translates to “faster load times, improved frame rates, and an experience of a new generation of gaming.” Xbox Cloud Gaming streams at 1080p up to 60 frames per second, she said.

Microsoft appears to be focusing its efforts toward cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — a way to make games more accessible to people who don’t have access to a high-end gaming computer or console. It’s beginning to focus on cloud native gaming, with Portal and Left 4 Dead developer Kim Swift joining the Xbox Cloud Gaming team as a senior director and building out a team centered around new cloud-based experiences.

One of the major problems, however, has been Microsoft’s inability to break onto Apple devices. Apple’s App Store guidelines previously barred cloud-based gaming services from launching on its devices, but new rules were issued in 2020 that technically opened the gate to Microsoft and other platforms. Microsoft responded at the time that Apple’s rules made “a bad experience for customers.”

Instead of creating a catalog-based app that individually linked out to games, Microsoft opted to run its Xbox Cloud Gaming service on iOS devices via browsers — something that allowed it to skirt App Store rules.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is Now Fully Available to All Game Pass Ultimate Subscribers - IGN

IGN 28 June, 2021 - 02:41pm

“Starting today, Xbox Cloud Gaming is available to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members with Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets, via browser, across 22 countries,” the announcement reads.

Xbox Cloud Gaming launches for iPhone and iPad in Safari with over 100 titles - 9to5Mac

9to5Mac 28 June, 2021 - 02:40pm

After several months of limited beta testing, Microsoft today is officially launching the public and open beta of its new Xbox Cloud Gaming Platform. This includes support in Safari on iPhone and iPad for playing a subset of Xbox Game Pass games by streaming them from the cloud.

As first announced in an Xbox blog post, Microsoft has officially debuted its new Xbox web interface for accessing the public beta of Xbox Cloud Gaming. The website touts that you can play “over 100 high-quality console games” directly in your browser with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and a compatible controller.

Starting today, Xbox Cloud Gaming is available to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members with Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets, via browser, across 22 countries. If you’re a member or want to become a member, simply go to xbox.com/play on Microsoft Edge, Chrome, or Safari on your PC or mobile device to start playing hundreds of games from the Xbox Game Pass library.

Microsoft says that cloud gaming on Xbox.com is supported on iPhone and iPad devices running iOS 14.4 or higher. Other requirements include a 10Mbps minimum internet connection and a Bluetooth or USB controller. The company also touts improvements to the Xbox Cloud Gaming experience:

We’re also making significant improvements to the overall experience: Xbox Cloud Gaming is now powered by custom Xbox Series X hardware. We’ve been upgrading Microsoft datacenters around the globe with the fastest, most powerful Xbox hardware to give you faster load times, improved frame rates, and an experience of a new generation of gaming. To ensure the lowest latency, highest quality experience across the broadest set of devices, we will be streaming at 1080p and up to 60fps. 

An Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription will run you $14.99 per month, but you can get your first three months for $1 as part of a limited-time promotion. As our colleagues over at 9to5Google note, support for browsers and iOS devices means the service now matches Google Stadia.

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Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

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Xbox Game Pass launches on iPhone, iPad | AppleInsider

AppleInsider 28 June, 2021 - 02:40pm

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Xbox has launched a Safari-compatible version of its Game Pass streaming service on iPhone, and select controller partners are offering three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for free.

Xbox Game Pass exits beta testing, and is now available via Safari on iPhone and iPad. Users can stream games and play with their touch screen or external controllers.

Apple doesn't allow native game streaming apps on iOS or iPadOS, but Microsoft is able to run Game Pass from the Safari browser. Like with Nvidia GeForce Now, users need only add the streaming service website to their Home Screen for easy access to the service.

Once added, Game Pass will appear as an app icon and launch a Safari window without the usual UI surrounding the page. Then, users will only need to log in to their account to begin playing games.

Alongside the Game Pass launch, Xbox has partnered with select controller retailers for a special offer. Those who purchase the Backbone One or new Razer Kishi will get three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate.

Both controllers snap onto a user's iPhone and connects via Lightning. They transforms the iPhone into a facsimile-gaming handheld complete with a game launching system through a dedicated app.

Both controllers offer similar functionality and attachment mechanisms. The difference will lie in customer preference — the Kishi having thicker chassis and grip versus the Backbone One being slimmer, but less compact for carrying.

The Backbone One can be purchased for $99 through the Backbone website. The Razer Kishi can be purchased via Razer's website.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is normally $14.99 per month and can be cancelled at any time.

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Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS arrives on Game Pass Ultimate for all

CNET 28 June, 2021 - 02:01pm

Read more: Xbox Cloud Gaming beta hands-on: How to play Xbox games on your iPad or laptop

Xbox Cloud Gaming, nee Project xCloud, lets you play a subset of Xbox Game Pass games on a device other than a console by streaming them from the cloud, a la Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now. It, like others, follows Amazon Luna's lead of using a web app to circumvent Apple's App Store policies which effectively shut out cloud gaming apps. For Windows PCs, it lets you play games your system might not otherwise have the power or space to run locally via Game Pass for PC.

The Backbone One will come with three free months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (saving $1 over Microsoft's own current promo of three months for $1!).

The Backbone One gamepad uses a layout similar to, though slightly different from, that of Microsoft's own Xbox controllers. But Backbone's software is one of the keys to its success, and which makes the controller an easy update for current owners to get the new features. It's compatible with all iPhones running iOS 13 or later.

For instance, it already has a dedicated gameplay capture button, it can tag gameplay and share as a link, incorporates a dynamic feed, and because it's designed for use with all mobile games, can serve as a central hub for those titles.

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How to Cancel an Xbox Game Pass Subscription on Xbox and PC | Digital Trends

Digital Trends 28 June, 2021 - 12:05pm

Here is how to cancel an Xbox Game Pass subscription on Xbox and PC.

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Windows 10 isn't going to get DirectStorage support

HEXUS 28 June, 2021 - 10:11am

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During the Windows 11 launch event, Microsoft was quite vocal about Windows 11 being "the best Windows Ever for Gaming". Two major features were to spearhead this gaming attack; Auto HDR and DirectStorage – both features with roots in Microsoft's Xbox games console development. Since the launch event, it has been confirmed by Microsoft that DirectStorage "will only be available with Windows 11". In other words, Microsoft doesn't intend to bring this tech to Windows 10.

As a reminder of why you might want DirectStorage functioning on your Windows gaming PC – this feature was designed by Microsoft to speed the transfer of assets from storage to GPU, without bogging down your CPU. As well as the obvious benefit of facilitating faster game loads, it has impacts on the draw distance and texture variety you might see in games. Open world games are set to perhaps benefit the most from DirectStorage, minimising or eliminating transitional loading screens.

The latest published Windows 11 system requirements don't say how big your Windows 11 SSD has to be to take advantage of DirectStorage. All it says is that you need at least 64GB capacity fixed storage for Windows 11, and DirectStorage specifically "requires an NVMe SSD to store and run games that use the Standard NVM Express Controller driver and a DirectX12 GPU with Shader Model 6.0 support."

At the reveal event we heard that Windows 11 would be available starting 'holiday 2021' but that doesn't seem to be the case for upgraders. The official Windows Twitter account has clarified that "Windows 11 is due out later in 2021 and will be delivered over several months. The rollout of the upgrade to Windows 10 devices already in use today will begin in 2022 through the first half of that year."

Thus, if you have a happily running Windows 10 system now, it might not be worth fretting about Windows 11 features and hardware specs. There is a lot of finessing time between now and 2022, and I think it is fair to say things are quite fluid – rather than set in stone. Microsoft faced criticism for vigorously trying to move people from Windows 7/8/8.1 to 10 a few years back, is it really going to turn 180 degrees on this philosophy and prevent a major swathe of users from willingly upgrading?

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The Gospel Of Xbox Game Pass

Forbes 28 June, 2021 - 08:12am

I’ve made many memes in my day, but ones that took over the entirety of gaming Twitter? Not so much. That honor goes to my friend Destin Legarie at IGN who posted this the other day, after his usual diet of being accused of being a paid Xbox shill:

This resulted in thousands of people copying and pasting some version of the same tweet, causing both Xbox Game Pass and #XboxGamePass to trend, the joke being that Microsoft is astroturfing with a marketing campaign to get people to evangelize the values of Game Pass. This led to Phil Spencer himself commenting on it all:

Game Pass often does kind of feel like a piece of gospel for Xbox players as of late, the marketing campaign itself cementing itself as a meme after “Day One on Game Pass” was uttered roughly a hundred times during their E3 show.

It’s not a joke, however, that Microsoft has created something that its competitors seem to be puzzled by in terms of how to match it. Netflix spawned a dozen imitators in the video streaming space, all with similar content models. But Game Pass? No one has really copied the formula to the same extent, which is in part, because of Microsoft’s unique power position in the gaming market, but also as one of the largest companies in the world.

Fellow largest companies in the world, Google and Amazon, have subscription game services, but they lack a number of elements that make Game Pass work. Streaming-based services that do not have the ability to download games to a device like a literal Xbox, because they’re completely married to the concept of the cloud. And yet that has not prevented Stadia from forming a weird model that charges for individual cloud games, rather than offering its selection for free. Amazon’s Luna has a more logical model, subscribe and get access to a roster of games, but it’s hardly all that expansive.

Google and Amazon also do not have even a fraction of the first party presence that Xbox has at this point, between its long-term developers and its recent acquisitions. Google is moving in the other direction completely, shutting down its Jade Raymond-led original games division (she’s now making a new game for PlayStation), while Amazon has struggled badly to produce even one coherent game, many eggs resting in the basket of New World, its upcoming MMO that has alternated between looking turbulent and vaguely promising. Xbox, meanwhile, has a massive roster of first party games heading into this generation especially, and I’ve noted that in this next year alone, we’re about to get Forza Horizon 5, Halo Infinite and Bethesda’s Starfield launching on Game Pass within a 12 month span starting in November.

Nintendo may discover what Game Pass actually is by maybe 2028 or so, and they’re not even in the conversation, forever existing on their own planet, which works fine for them. Hell, it’s a common theory that Microsoft may someday convince Nintendo to run a cloud-based version of Game Pass on the Switch.

That leaves Sony. PlayStation has PS Now, the literal closest thing in the industry to Game Pass, offering hundreds of games as part of the subscription, and yet there’s really only one point that matters here: Sony has not and seems like it will not commit to launching its coveted original first party games on a service like PS Now, preferring to sell them as now $70 standalone copies because well, they make an absolute mountain of money that way.

Sony has previously commented that they don’t believe it’s sustainable to try to fund essentially your entire first party catalogue’s development using only subscription revenue and barely selling any actual copies of games. There’s some debate about whether Microsoft’s Game Pass is profitable or not because that’s what they’re doing, but even if not, this is where being a trillion dollar company comes in handy. Sony, meanwhile, views bundling PS Now with new games like Horizon Forbidden West, God of War 2, etc. as too much of a risky to their bottom line, given that they know those games will probably move tens of millions of copies sold at full price. So why bother?

That leaves Microsoft standing alone with Game Pass, a must-have for any Xbox player, but strangely also a service its competitors either cannot or do not want to emulate.

…all at the low price of $9.99 a month with the first three months for only $1!

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