Microsoft is about to launch a dedicated device for streaming games, the company announced today. It’s also partnering with a number of TV manufacturers to bring the Xbox experience right into their internet-connected screens, and Microsoft plans to bring build cloud gaming to the PC Xbox app later this year , with a focus on play-before-you scenarios.
It is unclear what these new game streaming devices will look like. Microsoft did not provide any further details. But chances are we’re either talking about a Chromecast-like streaming stick or a small Apple TV-like box. So far we also don’t know which TV manufacturers it will work with.
It’s no secret that Microsoft is optimistic about cloud gaming. The Xbox Game Pass Ultimate already enables its subscribers to play more than 100 console games on Android, which are streamed from the Azure cloud, for example. In a few weeks, cloud gaming in the browser on Edge, Chrome and Safari will open to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers (it is currently in the limited beta phase). Game Pass Ultimate will also be rolled out to Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan later that year.
In many ways, Microsoft is unbundling gaming from the hardware – much like Google is trying with Stadia (an attempt that has failed so far for Google) and Amazon with Luna. The big advantage Microsoft has here is a large library of popular games that are mostly lacking in competing services, with the exception of Nvidia’s GeForce Now platform – which, however, has a different business model as the focus is not on subscription, but on allowing you to play the games that you buy from third-party stores such as Steam or the Epic Store.
Microsoft clearly wants to expand the entire Xbox ecosystem, even if that means selling less dedicated high-performance consoles. The company compares this to the music industry’s transition to cloud-based services supported by all-you-can-eat subscription models.
“We believe that gaming, this interactive entertainment, isn’t really about hardware and software. It’s not about pixels. It’s about people. Games bring people together “,
said Microsoft’s Xbox boss Phil Spencer. “Games build bridges and bonds and generate mutual empathy among people all over the world. Joy and community – that’s what we’re here for. “
It’s worth noting that Microsoft says it isn’t getting rid of dedicated hardware and is already working on the next generation of its console hardware – but don’t expect a new Xbox console anytime soon.