Microsoft plans smart TV apps, streaming stick to expand Xbox cloud gaming

Microsoft revealed plans to expand Xbox and its Game Pass service through smart TV apps and by building its own connected TV streaming device.

The company dropped a flurry of cloud gaming announcements today ahead of the 2021 E3 video game trade event. Xbox said it is working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions with no extra hardware required except a controller. The company also said it is building its own streaming devices for cloud gaming to reach gamers on any TV or monitor without the need for a console at all.

“We believe that Microsoft can play a leading role in democratizing gaming and defining the future of interactive entertainment. There are really three key areas where we believe we have an incredible competitive advantage: First, our leadership in cloud computing. Second, the resources we have to build our subscription service, Xbox Game Pass. And third, our overall focus on empowering creators,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a statement.

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In the next few weeks, Microsoft will open cloud gaming on the browser to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members with Edge, Chrome and Safari support. The company also said it’s in the final stages of updating its datacenters with the latest generation of hardware, the Xbox Series X, so that cloud gaming will get faster load times, improved frame rates and access to Xbox Series X|S optimized games.

Microsoft said that later this year it will add cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC and integrate it into the console experience to provide features like “try before you download.” Xbox is also exploring new subscription offerings for Xbox Game Pass and is working with telecommunications providers on new purchasing models like Xbox All Access, which allows consumers to buy both a console and Game Pass for a monthly price instead of paying up front.

Microsoft will also expand the global reach for its cloud gaming services, which will be available through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Japan later this year.