Microsoft has confirmed plans to bring Xbox cloud gaming to internet-connected TVs in a move that will let players access services like Game Pass with no extra hardware required except a controller.
The company is currently working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected TVs, it told press this week. And it’s also building its own streaming devices to bring cloud gaming to any TV or monitor without the need for a console.
“Cloud is key to our hardware and Game Pass roadmaps, but no one should think we’re slowing down on our core console engineering. In fact, we’re accelerating it,” Xbox’s experiences and platforms boss Liz Hamren said during a video presentation. “We’re already hard at work on new hardware and platforms, some of which won’t come to light for years.
“But even as we build for the future, we’re focused on extending the Xbox experience to more devices today so we can reach more people. And many of those devices won’t be built by us. For example, we’re working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Game Pass experience directly into internet-connected TVs, so all you’ll need to play is a controller.
“Beyond that, we’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience.”
During the same presentation, Hamren said Microsoft is exploring introducing new Xbox Game Pass subscription plans to bring the service to a wider audience.
In an interview posted on Xbox Wire, Xbox head Phil Spencer said the cloud will enable Microsoft to completely eliminate expensive barriers to play that have traditionally limited gaming’s potential audience.
“Going back to the birth of personal computing in the 1970s, the ability to play games has been limited by the cost and power of the specific device you’re using, whether it’s an arcade cabinet or a PC, a phone, a tablet, whatever. And that cost and those requirements have always severely limited who can play, where they can play and who they can play with,” he said.
“When I was a kid, it was crazy to think about having a Galaga machine or a Ms. Pac-man machine in your house. You had to go to the arcade. More recently, if you couldn’t spend hundreds of dollars on a game console, potentially thousands of dollars on a high-end PC, you simply couldn’t participate in the global gaming community in a significant way.”
Microsoft partnered with Samsung to bring Xbox cloud gaming to the electronics company’s products in 2020, and Spencer has previously hinted at plans to bundle Xbox Game Pass with TV streaming sticks.
“The cloud will allow us to completely remove these barriers to play worldwide,” Spencer told Xbox Wire. “Of course, there’s still a place for consoles and PCs and frankly, there always will be, but through the cloud, we will be able to deliver a robust gaming experience to anyone connected to the internet, even on the least powerful, least expensive devices, devices people already own. And with the cloud, gaming players can participate fully in the same Xbox experience as people on local hardware. We couldn’t do that if we weren’t part of Microsoft.”
The company currently offers cloud gaming on Android mobiles as part of its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription service.
In April it began inviting Game Pass Ultimate members to a cloud gaming beta for Windows 10 PCs and Apple devices via web browsers Edge, Chrome and Safari. In “the next few weeks”, cloud gaming on the browser will open to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members.
Cloud gaming will also be added directly into the Xbox app on PC and integrated into the Xbox console experience later this year.
Cloud gaming is currently available in 22 countries. Microsoft plans to launch Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan later this year.