Head of Xbox Phil Spencer shared more details about Microsoft’s strategy going into the next console generation this morning through a blog post, in which he announced that the upcoming game-streaming service Project xCloud would be included with the Xbox Game Pass subscription at no additional cost.
Spencer also stressed how Xbox’s strategy diverged from PlayStation’s by not making any games exclusive to its upcoming next-gen console, the Xbox Series X, for the first few years of its lifespan. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s a half-step Microsoft could take, such as eventually having games playable on Xbox One X and Series X but not the base Xbox One. Time will tell.
And soon, people will have the option to play Xbox games without needing an Xbox or PC at all: Project xCloud seems to be a direct competitor to Google’s Stadia platform, which launched in November 2019 to a mostly confused market. The promise that players would no longer be confined to bulky consoles or PCs to play big-budget games seemed appealing to some, but was marred by poor performance, messaging and a lack of compelling exclusive titles. We’ll see if Xbox can pull off what Google hasn’t been able to, but the premise of including the service as part of the Netflix-style buffet of games that is Xbox Game Pass seems like a smart one.
The post also reconfirmed a few other details we already knew of, such as the Xbox Series X’s backwards compatibility with all Xbox One games that don’t use Kinect and its “Smart Delivery” system that gives those who purchase the Xbox One version of games such as Assassin’s Creed Valhalla or Cyberpunk 2077 the option to get the Series X version at no additional cost. Spencer also made note of the “Xbox All Access” plan, which essentially lets you make monthly payments to pay off an Xbox, including the upcoming Series X, similar to a monthly car payment.
Project xCloud launches September 2020 as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, although it’s unknown if it will be available through other means as well. Perhaps we’ll get more details during next week’s Xbox Games Showcase, which promises to show off Halo Infinite and other games coming to Xbox Series X when it airs July 23 at 12 p.m. ET.