You mightn’t need to buy an Xbox if you want to play Xbox games in the future, as Microsoft’s Game Pass is set to work on things not consoles, too.
While both the new next-gen consoles aren’t that easy to find, they’ve clearly taken different paths.
The Sony PlayStation 5 is excellent, and when you can find it, comes in both a Blu-ray version and a digital version. But regardless of which version you buy, you’re going to be buying games for the platform, because the subscription service Sony offers — PlayStation Plus — isn’t a buffet of games, but only offer a few per month specifically for that month. You still typically have to buy games for the PlayStation.
That’s a dramatic difference from the Xbox. While finding an Xbox Series X still isn’t easy compared to the similar but less capable digital Series S, you don’t necessarily need to keep buying games for either. Rather, you can get a subscription to Xbox Game Pass, which includes a buffet of games that change every so often, many of which are premium, and depending on the service level you pay for, may even include premium titles from other publishers, such as EA in the Ultimate Game Pass, which offers sports and Star Wars aplenty.
You can still buy individual games on the Xbox, for sure, but having an online service means you don’t necessarily need to. They’re there for you when you want to play, making the two paths entirely different. And it’s an approach that may give you a sense of what’s coming, because Microsoft has announced this week that Xbox gamers might not even need an Xbox to game in the future.
While you’ll likely get the best performance with one, Microsoft has announced cloud gaming is coming on the browser, with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members getting access to that through the Edge, Chrome, and Safari browsers in the next few weeks, and there’s more happening, too.
Cloud gaming through other devices will launch in Australia later this year, while Xbox is also working with TV manufacturers to integrate an Xbox client directly into smart TVs, with the only requirement being a controller will be needed.
That should give Apple Arcade on the Apple TV some friendly competition for the TV gaming space, because right now, you can use an Xbox controller with an Apple TV for Apple Arcade games. Microsoft’s plan would be a little different, and would leverage a high-speed internet connection to let you play games through your TV’s operating system without the extra hardware, though that may also be coming, too.
Alongside this news, Microsoft said that it’s working on its own streaming devices to let people connect to the Xbox Game Pass service around the world without a console, working on any TV or any monitor. Much like how a Chromecast can connect to a TV and deliver the Google TV experience, Microsoft’s supposed Xbox streaming device would do the same, and essentially be an inexpensive alternative to an Xbox console.
Of course, none of this will work without the Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which is largely the point. That seems to be the crux of what Microsoft is making all of this for, and Microsoft also noted that it plans to launch at least one new first party game into Game Pass every quarter, thanks to the over 20 studios worldwide creating games for Xbox.
“As a company, Microsoft is all-in on gaming. Gaming is the most dynamic category in the entertainment industry,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft.
“Three billion consumers look to gaming for entertainment, community, creation, as well as a real sense of achievement, and our ambition is to empower each of them, wherever they play.”
You can probably expect more on the sort of games that would be added to the service in the coming days, what with the online version of E3 set to run, but that appears to be a glimpse of your console-less gaming future, which may well offer something else to get excited for on the next crop of TVs, too.