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Xbox, Telstra see Cloud Gaming launch for Aussies to play on phones

Forget the install to an Xbox, as Xbox’s Cloud Gaming service leaves beta and lets you game from your phone, tablet, and computer.

Playing Xbox games doesn’t just have to be a TV thing anymore, as Xbox’s way to let you play via mobile devices is rolling out across Australia, potentially giving you one more thing to look forward to this weekend.

It’s something that has been in testing for quite some time, but now gamers with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription can turn to more than just an Xbox or Windows PC to play games, relying on custom Xbox Series X hardware found in the cloud to play the games they want.

That’s what’s launching on Xbox Cloud Gaming, with over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles sitting in the Xbox app able to be played on Android phones and tablets, the iPhone and iPad, and even Windows PCs, all without installing them to your device.

Rather, the cloud service operates very much like how you might watch Netflix or Stan: you stream the game to your device, playing remotely while also synchronising your progress, allowing you to play from where you left when you get back to a real console, if ever later.

Xbox games aren’t made to run on the iPhone, iPad, or Android phones, and while some work on Windows PCs, the idea here is that regardless of the phone or tablet or possibly even computer you have, you can play Xbox games remotely without an installation. All you need is your device, possibly a controller, and a decent broadband connection.

However that broadband connection is a big part, and may well be why Xbox has teamed up with Telstra as the official telco for the service, though one that’s not required.

“Our teams have been working closely together to optimise the Xbox Cloud Gaming experience, and we can’t wait for Telstra customers to start playing games from the cloud,” said Tania Chee, Business Lead for Xbox in Australia and New Zealand.

“Telstra is the official network for Xbox Cloud Gaming powered by Xbox Game Pass Ultimate,” she said.

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Telstra’s position as the official network for Xbox Cloud Gaming doesn’t mean you need Telstra to play, however. Rather, it just leverages Telstra’s expertise as a 5G provider and implies it’s the preferred way to do so.

Australians can still get online with any other telco or broadband provider, though hasn’t said exactly what the connection requirements are. With an expected download amount of 2 to 3GB per hour, Xbox Cloud Gaming may well be like 4K video downloads and require fast broadband connections, throwing out the unlimited mobile broadband caps of 1.5Mbps that providers often place on accounts.

That means if you do have one of those caps and you want to game using the service, it may be time to upgrade to another plan, or switch to something that offers a massive amount of uncapped downloads, or even something unlimited.

As it is, Telstra noted that it has “no intention to unmeter” the Xbox Cloud Gaming content, something it does with music downloads over Apple Music. It means the downloads you rack up playing Xbox over the cloud will count to Telstra plans, even though Telstra is the preferred provider, much like they would at any service.

However, Telstra did say it will work on several mobile connections, not just the high-speed 5G service, with Nathan Gumley, Head of Gaming at Telstra, noting as much this week.

“Yes, it’ll work on 4G [but] it won’t work as well as 5G,” he said.

“We think our customers are going to love using Xbox Cloud Gaming on our low latency, high-capacity 5G – especially when playing co-op and multiplayer titles. We’ve worked closely with Microsoft to optimise our networks to make sure Telstra gamers have a great Xbox gaming experience – whether they’re playing at home or using their mobile device outside,” he said.

For gamers keen to try Xbox Cloud Gaming, they’ll need an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and their phone, though they may also want an external controller, such as the Razer Kishi or another external game controller. While there are touchscreen controls on offer, it’s worth noting that most games are made with actual physical controls in mind, and so may not play as nicely with your touchscreen in quite the same way as mobile gamers may be used to.

Leigh :) Stark

One of Australia's well regarded technology journalists working out of Sydney, Leigh Stark has been writing about technology for over 15 years, covering phones, computers, cameras, headphones, speakers, and more. Stylising his middle initial with an emoticon, he aims to present tech in a way that makes it easy for everyone. While he founded Pickr in 2016, Stark's work can be seen in other publications including The Australian Financial Review, Popular Science, and many more. His award-winning podcast "The Wrap" is syndicated on Southern Cross Austereo's LiSTNR network weekly, while he can be heard on radio via ABC Brisbane and ABC Canberra, and seen on TV's Nine. Check out Leigh Stark's most recent media appearances.

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