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How You Can Access Xcloud on Mobile Devices

The shift to video game streaming has been slow, but developers and platform-holders have been making strides toward the inevitable future. While we certainly aren’t where many companies would like us to be, there are a handful of streaming services that are worth checking out. Arguably the most notable is Xcloud (or Xbox Cloud Gaming), a service that allows you to stream Xbox games to your PC, tablet, and mobile devices.

It’s a fairly new service that has been in the works for quite some time, but it’s now available across iOS and Android devices — allowing you to play Xbox games from anywhere. Since this is a new service, you might be unsure of how it works and how to access it on your mobile devices. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how to access Xcloud on mobile, including iOS and Android.

Recommended reading:

What is Xcloud?

Xcloud (or Project Xcloud, as it was once referred to) is Microsoft’s new streaming service that allows you to play a select number of Xbox games on many devices. This not only allows you to play from wherever, but it also eliminates the need for a powerful console. Microsoft wants its audience to play games by any means necessary. The company isn’t totally concerned with selling you its consoles.

Instead, it wants you to subscribe to its subscription service, which houses a slew of games — many of which are available through Xcloud. This includes new Xbox Series X titles, as well as older games from Xbox One and prior.

It’s a win-win for everyone. Players are able to access the newest games at an affordable price, while Microsoft makes a profit without having to create an expensive piece of hardware. Granted, the company is still in the business of making consoles for now, but systems aren’t known for generating profits until later in their life cycle. From a business perspective, having monthly subscribers is ideal, more predictable, and, in many cases, more profitable than selling hardware.

Because of all this, Xcloud is an appealing service that likely signals the future of video games.

Getting set up

Get the right controller

Shock Blue Xbox controller.

If all of that sounds appealing, you’re probably considering hopping aboard. Here’s what you need to know.

The first thing is that you must have a compatible controller to play Xbox games via Xcloud. Many controllers will work and can sync to compatible devices that support Xcloud. If you own a modern console, chances are you have a compatible controller such as the DualShock 4 or wireless Xbox controller.

Controllers from the following companies are functional with Xcloud:

  • Microsoft
  • 8BitDo
  • Backbone
  • Ipega
  • MYGT
  • PowerA
  • Razer
  • Sony
  • SteelSeries

For more on compatible controllers, visit Microsoft’s website to see the full list.

Be an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate member

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate logo.

In order to gain access to Xcloud, you’ll need to be an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate member. It’s $15 per year and gives you access to Xbox Game Pass, Xbox Live Gold, and the ability to play games via Xcloud. If you’re someone who wants to have a massive library of games to choose from — on the go or from a console or PC — this is the service for you. Just the Game Pass titles alone are worth the entry price, along with the ability to play online, thanks to Xbox Live Gold.

Game Pass and Xbox Live Gold are separate, but Xbox Game Pass Ultimate bundles them together, giving you lots of value for a low monthly price.

Use a compatible device

Xcloud on a mobile device.

The final piece of the puzzle is to make sure you have a compatible device that supports Xcloud. You can play from an iPhone, iPad, or compatible Android tablet or phone. On Apple devices, make sure you’ve got iOS 14.4 or later, along with Bluetooth 4.0.

USB connections work with some controllers, so refer to the previous section for more info on that.

As for Android, you’ll need Android 6.0 or later and Bluetooth 4.0 to play wirelessly.

The other thing Microsoft recommends is having internet speeds of at least 10Mbps minimum with 5Ghz Wi-Fi in order to get the most out of your gameplay experience. Therein lies the problem with game streaming, as it’s tough for everyone to have internet speeds that can keep up with it.

How to access Xcloud on mobile once you’re set up

Now that you’ve got a compatible device, controller, and an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership, you’ll be ready to start playing! Depending on the device you have, there are a couple of ways you can go about accessing Xcloud.

Those with iOS devices will need to access their Xcloud games via a browser, so boot up Chrome, Safari, or Microsoft Edge to begin. Then, visit the Microsoft website and sign in. Assuming the account you’re signed into has Game Pass Ultimate, you’ll gain access to over 100 games right from the browser. From there, you simply control the menu just like you would on an Xbox console. The best thing about this is that there’s no need to download anything. All the compatible games are available straight away, assuming your internet can handle it.

On Android, there’s an additional option, but it works similarly to the way it does on Apple. You can either access Xcloud from a browser just like you can on iOS, or you can utilize the Xbox Game Streaming app. Either way, the process is the same. Sign in with your Xbox Game Pass Ultimate account and gain access to over 100 games right from your phone or tablet.

Which games are available on Xcloud?

Master Chief from Halo.

The list of games is over 100 strong, and it includes many recent releases. We won’t go through all of them here, but we will highlight some fan favorites you should definitely try:

  • Fallout 3
  • Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  • The Evil Within 2
  • A Plague Tale Innocence
  • DOOM
  • Battletoads
  • Batman: Arkham Knight
  • ARK: Survival Evolved
  • Control
  • DayZ
  • Destiny 2
  • Dragon Quest XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age — Definitive Edition
  • Fable Anniversary
  • Forza Horizon 4
  • Gears 5
  • Grand Theft Auto V
  • Grounded
  • Halo: The Master Chief Collection
  • MLB The Show 21
  • Monster Hunter: World
  • NieR: Automata
  • Ori and the Will of the Wisps
  • Outriders
  • Red Dead Online
  • Resident Evil 7 Biohazard
  • State of Decay 2
  • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • The Sims 4
  • Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six Siege

For the full list, check out Microsoft’s site. Keep in mind, this list will grow just as Game Pass has expanded since it launched. And presumably, each and every first-party release will be available through Xcloud.

Editors’ Choice




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Tech News

Apple removed Shadow game streaming app to block Microsoft xCloud

Apple has very strict app store policies that it credits as the reason that it is able to offer high-quality and safe experiences on iOS. Those policies, however, have also been criticized by developers are self-serving, inconsistent, and monopolistic, traits that Epic Games is using against the iPhone maker in its high-profile lawsuit. The game developer, however, isn’t the only big company that had problems with Apple’s App Store rules but, in an almost odd turn of events, Microsoft inadvertently got a competing game streaming app banned when it was making its case for Project xCloud on iOS.

Of Apple’s many App Store policies, the most notorious is perhaps the restriction on offering any kind of store within an app. That’s the reason why Amazon’s Kindle and Comixology apps don’t allow buying anything from within the app in contrast to the experience on Android. That policy, however, has become the bane of the new breed of game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft Xbox Game Pass’ service, formerly known as Project xCloud.

Both companies as well as some third-party developers have tried to work around those limitations but Microsoft tried to also convince Apple to let xCloud into the App Store. In email exchanges last year between the two companies that were revealed as part of the Epic Games vs. Apple lawsuit, Microsoft argued that apps like Netflix and Shadow did exist in the App Store. The latter was also a cloud gaming service that suddenly found itself pulled from the App Store probably because Microsoft used it as an example.

Fortunately for Shadow’s users, that ban was only temporary. The developers successfully argued that they didn’t really offer an alternative content store because what they ultimately provided was remote access to a gaming PC. This would be the same line of reasoning Valve would use in order to get Steam Link approved once and for all.

To date, Stadia and Xbox Game Pass streaming remain absent on iOS and this trial will hardly change that. Not unless Epic Games is able to win its case and force Apple to open up its mobile platform to competing content stores and payment systems.

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Game

Microsoft xCloud | Price, Beta, Release Date, and More

Microsoft remains committed to offering Xbox One and PC fans a variety of ways to play their favorite games, whether that be through physical discs, paid digital downloads, free Xbox Games with Gold titles, or the vault from Xbox Game Pass. One upcoming service, Project xCloud, will allow players to enjoy their favorite games instantly, whether they are playing on a console, PC, or even a mobile phone. The service has the potential to completely change how we experience games — and you’ll be able to try it out very soon. Here’s everything we know about Microsoft xCloud.

What is Project xCloud?

Project xCloud is Microsoft’s video game streaming service, allowing players to instantly stream console and PC games to their device of choice using an internet connection (like an Android smartphone, for example). Similar to the system used by Google Stadia, you won’t download the games you play in Project xCloud. Instead, they’ll be streamed from Microsoft’s own servers, which make use of the Azure Cloud architecture that has been implemented in games like Crackdown 3 and Titanfall. There are 54 different Azure regions around the globe, which should provide stable service to users regardless of their location.

Project xCloud is not designed to replace traditional disc-based and digital gaming. Instead, Microsoft hopes for it to open up console-quality gaming to those who currently lack the necessary hardware to do so or can only play on mobile devices. It also means players will be able to enjoy a particular Xbox or PC game they’re interested in without having to purchase an entire system.

It isn’t clear yet what the quality limit will be on Project xCloud. In a blog post in March 2019, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Gaming Cloud Kareem Choudhry said that the company still values the console experience, as it allows for 4K gaming with HDR, while xCloud so far has been focused on mobile devices where resolution isn’t as important as it is for streaming on something like the Stadia.

How does Project xCloud work?

Project xCloud running on Android phone
Mark Knapp/Digital Trends

Project xCloud uses Microsoft’s Azure data centers’ hardware to render gaming experiences remotely, and the games will then be streamed to your device of choice. Each server blade has the internals of four Xbox One S systems, if the demonstration video Microsoft released is accurate.

The same cloud saving system currently used to make Xbox Play Anywhere — the cross-buy program for Xbox One and PC — possible will also be used in Project xCloud. This means that if you are playing a game at home and need to leave, you will be able to pick up directly where you left off.

During a demonstration on Inside Xbox in March, we got to see our first look at Project xCloud in action. Running on the Azure data centers’ servers, Forza Horizon 4 was shown streaming to an Android phone, with quality similar to that of the console game. The frame rate appeared to be identical, allowing for an experience that was not pared down in any way to work through streaming.

To optimize the experience for mobile players, Microsoft will offer multiple control options. These include the ability to use an Xbox One controller via Bluetooth — a feature all-new Xbox One controllers have — and touch support will also be offered. Rather than using a one-size-fits-all control scheme for touchscreens, games will also get their own unique setups to best suit the actions players will be doing.

Pricing

Goodbye original Xbox One: Microsoft discontinues sales for console

Thus far, Project xCloud is available for free as part of the Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which costs $15 per month. It is not available in any other form, and Microsoft does not appear ready to launch it as an independent service for the foreseeable future. There are some additional costs if you want to buy a Bluetooth controller specifically for xCloud streaming, but the newer Bluetooth-supporting Xbox controllers work just fine, and if a game supports touch controls, you don’t even need to use a controller.

The first Android beta

While the entirety of xCloud is still technically in beta, Microsoft is holding brief preview betas as part of rolling out the service. The first beta for xCloud supported only Android devices, and officially ended on September 1, 2020, before the launch of the service on Game Pass Ultimate later that month. Beta testers were able to save game progress to their Xbox profiles so it could carry over after the beta was finished.

During this period, more than 50 games were available to play. They include Gears 5, Madden NFL 20, Devil May Cry 5, and Tekken 7, although not all games tested in the beta were later made available via Game Pass.

The second iOS/PC beta

Microsoft was not able to offer xCloud on iOS during its first beta due to a confrontation with Apple’s notoriously strict App Store policies. Microsoft decided on a workaround using a mobile web browser for iOS and skipping App Store headaches altogether. In early 2021, the company announced via a blog post that iOS support for xCloud would begin with a beta for both iOS and PC in spring 2021.

Thus far, no specific release date has been announced. It’s not yet certain if this will be a shorter preview beta as with Android before a more official rollout of iOS support, or if iOS capabilities will be added to xCloud without a preview period.

Release dates

After the first beta version, Microsoft declared the release of Project xCloud on September 15th for Android as a bundled package. They announced that the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription could be purchased for $15 each month. As long as users possess Game Pass Ultimate and an Android device with the Android 6.0 version or above, they can play over 100 incredible games on their device for free. Some of these included games consist of Minecraft Dungeons, Destiny 2, Tell Me Why, Gears 5, Sea of Thieves, and Yakuza Kiwami 2. Currently, we are not aware of any plans for unique games using xCloud. 

“As the world around us changes and entertainment is readily available no matter the device, it’s our vision to make games accessible in a variety of scenarios,” Microsoft stated. “All the experiences you expect on Xbox and your gaming profile travel with you on mobile, including your friend’s list, achievements, controller settings, and saved game progress.”

Today, there are several gaming accessories you can buy, particularly for Android gaming using xCloud. These include the Razer Kishi mobile gaming machine, the Moga XP5-X Plus controller with an Android phone accessory, and more options. Microsoft also proceeds to develop regional support, with 2021 strategies for delivering the services to Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

As far as we know, there has not been any word about a stand-alone service for xCloud. Still, Microsoft has regularly mentioned xCloud as a multi-year plan with forthcoming updates. The subsequent stage of this project seems to be bringing support to iOS devices, which Microsoft verified was on route for the spring of 2021.

Editors’ Choice




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Game

Xbox Game Pass xCloud streaming to get 1080p, Windows support

Although it is far from conceding defeat, some have considered the shuttering of Stadia’s first-party game development studio as a moment of weakness. Naturally, its competitors in that still young market are taking the opportunity to show their strength. NVIDIA finally published its long list of GeForce NOW supported titles and Amazon Luna has gone invite-free on Fire TV devices. Microsoft’s Project xCloud, now formally Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Cloud Gaming Streaming Service, is also stepping up with a few developments coming to subscribers soon.

To some extent, xCloud is catching up to the likes of Stadia and GeForce NOW in supporting 1080p resolutions. Microsoft’s game streaming service has so far capped at 720p to be more efficient on bandwidth and performance. Unfortunately, that also means games aren’t being enjoyed in their most respectable medium settings, which makes for a less than desirable experience.

According to Windows Central’s source, Xbox is already testing that much-needed 1080p upgrade. This may be thanks to Microsoft switching xCloud’s platform from the Xbox One to the more powerful Xbox Series X console. That’s still to happen over the course of the year so it’s no surprise it isn’t available yet.

Another thing that’s still coming is, ironically, xCloud support for Windows PCs. This version of the xCloud app brings support for touch screen controls and gyro sensors. Its most notable feature, however, is that it can also play games from Xbox consoles you might have at home, even if you’re away. The app also works on ARM-based Windows computers, like Microsoft’s own Surface Pro X.

This, of course, has long been in the works but, based on The Verge’s report, there are still a lot of things that are broken or not yet fully functional. The year, however, is still early but Xbox hopefully won’t take its sweet time until it misses the window of opportunity.

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Game

Microsoft xCloud web browser game streaming near public beta

The Public Beta of Microsoft’s xCloud for the web appears to be nearly ready for release. A report from The Verge today suggests that the web browser-based version of Microsoft xCloud is in testing in-house now, and should be ready for public beta play in the near future. This version should allow Microsoft xCloud to be played on more platforms than the cloud gaming service works with currently.

If and when Microsoft xCloud is released in a web browser iteration for public consumption, it’ll be very similar to that of the Google solution – Google Stadia. Google Stadia currently works in a web browser, allowing users to stream their games with a game controller from a wide variety of platforms.

Microsoft’s xCloud cloud gaming platform will allow users to access their full collection of Xbox games in a very similar manner to that of Google Stadia. The big difference is in the library. If you’ve been buying Xbox games for a decade, you’ll likely have more games to play with xCloud than you would with Google Stadia – unless you only buy a game or two a year, then you might find more with Google Stadia Pro.

The Verge has a set of screenshots that show the xCloud gaming service in a web browser in a form that appears ready for public beta. Sources familiar with Microsoft’s Xbox plans said that the web version is in testing with Microsoft employees now.

Take a peek at the timeline below for other recent updates to the Microsoft xCloud universe. The game streaming wars are currently going full-tilt, at precisely the time when at-home gaming is most likely to take hold. It’ll be interesting to see what happens once summer takes hold and vaccines for COVID-19 are distributed en masse – cross your fingers for the best!

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