Microsoft Game-Streaming Service Goes Live

Microsoft Corp. on Tuesday (Sept. 15) announced that its game-streaming service XCloud is now available to users of Google’s Android service, but not to Apple iPhone users.

CNBC wrote: “Think of xCloud as the ‘Netflix of gaming.’ Microsoft’s game-streaming service lets you play high-quality games, which normally require a powerful Xbox game console, anywhere there’s a fast enough (10Mbps or better) internet connection without the need to ever buy an Xbox. Netflix, by comparison, requires half that speed, or 5Mbps, for an HD video stream.”

The new Microsoft offering will compete with the Stadia service Google launched last year to stream PC games to devices using Android or Google’s Chrome operating system.

To access game-streaming, users must sign up for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which costs $14.99 per month after a $1 trial and offers more than 150 games.

The service is launching with more than 150 games, Microsoft announced on Monday (Sept. 14). Games available today include Minecraft, Forza Horizon 4 and NBA 2K20. Some titles are free.

“One of the key benefits of cloud gaming is that it gives you more choices in how to play,” Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s vice president for cloud gaming, said in a prepared statement. “Because your Xbox profile resides in the cloud, you can easily continue your Wasteland 3 play that you began on your living-room Xbox console on your Android phone or tablet. It’s perfect for those times when you want to get in a gaming session while away from home or when your shared TV or console is occupied. With the cloud, a game like Sea of Thieves can transform into a great couch co-op experience with multiple people playing across console, PC and mobile devices in the same room.”

Choudry added: “Cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate now opens up the world of Xbox to those who may not own a console at all.”

While today’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is gaining considerable attention, at least one major player in the industry expressed doubt about game-streaming in an interview this week. Strauss Zelnick, CEO of Take-Two Interactive Software, told Protocol: “I’m sure there were people like that, but if they are so interested that they want to pay $60 or $70 for a front-line title, it’s hard for me to believe they were unwilling to spend $250 on a console to be able to do it ever in their life … I suspect it will not be transformative.”

The service comes as Apple and Google wrestle with app-makers, including makers of games, that contend the companies’ App Store policies unfairly require that developers enter unfair revenue-sharing agreements.

On Sept. 11, Apple took some steps to adjust the company’s policies on revenue-sharing.

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