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Microsoft to launch its cloud gaming service publicly in September

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Key Points
  • Microsoft executive Phil Spencer said xCloud would be launched for free to customers of its Xbox Game Pass subscription service.
  • It's effectively a commercial launch for the xCloud service, which allows gamers to hop into a game using their phone or tablet.
  • Competition in the cloud gaming space has intensified with companies from Google to Nvidia launching their own respective platforms.
Microsoft Project xCloud will let people stream games to mobile devices, too.
Microsoft

Microsoft will launch its game streaming service Project xCloud publicly in September, marking a further push for the company into cloud gaming.

Phil Spencer, the head of Microsoft's Xbox unit, said Thursday that xCloud would be launched for free to customers of its Xbox Game Pass subscription service, which gives players access to a select catalog of games.

"We're bringing Xbox Game Pass and Project xCloud together at no additional cost for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members," Spencer said in a blog post. "With cloud gaming in Game Pass Ultimate, you will be able to play over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles on your phone or tablet."

It's effectively a commercial launch for the xCloud service, which allows gamers to hop into a game using their phone or tablet while the game is run on remote servers. You currently have to register to get invited to a "preview" version of the service to play.

"Integrating the offer into Xbox Game Pass Ultimate fully commercialises the technology and gives people using it the ability to game with the almost 100 million Xbox Live community of users across console,  PC and mobile," said Piers Harding-Rolls, the research director of games at analytics firm Ampere Analysis.

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"The fact the feature is free means that usage of the technology is likely to be widespread across the subscriber base and will give many the first taste of this distribution technology, its advantages, and its limitations."

The news also comes ahead of the launch of Microsoft's upcoming Xbox Series X console, which will be the successor to the Xbox One. The company is currently battling with Sony to convince gamers to buy the device over its Japanese rival's upcoming PlayStation 5 machine.

Competition in the nascent cloud gaming space has intensified with companies from Google to Nvidia launching their own respective streaming platforms.

Google entered the market with its Stadia game streaming service, but the product was met with mixed reviews. Meanwhile, Nvidia's GeForce platform has run into some trouble with developers, with Activision Blizzard pulling all its games from the service in February.

Sony also has a game subscription service, called PlayStation Now, which lets players access several PlayStation games across the PlayStation 4 and PC. Nintendo on the other hand, while not yet involved in cloud gaming, has upped its focus on mobile gaming with its Switch console and smartphone-based titles such as "Mario Kart Tour."