Surface Duo and the xCloud Experience

Posted on September 10, 2020 by Brad Sams in Games, Project xCloud, Xbox with 3 Comments

Today, Microsoft is releasing the Surface Duo and if you want to read a full review, you can find that here. But one thing Microsoft is launching next week is xCloud, or as they would like me to call it, Cloud Gaming.

A few caveats before going forward is that this post was written when the Game Pass app was still in beta which means the experience could change before release (significant changes are unlikely); consider this as a snapshot of what you can do with the Surface Duo today along with xCloud.

At a high level, the experience works but it is far from perfect and it only works well in one specific posture for the Duo. If you fold the device into a tent and place it on a desk, the Duo is a lot of fun to use with xCloud but in many other scenarios, the experience is less than ideal.

For example, the app does not take advantage of the dual displays in any meaningful way. If you span the app across both displays, there is no value added to the experience. And the potential killer feature of being able to use it like a Nintendo 3DS with the controls on one screen and the game on the other is not possible at this time.

Further, I have a controller clip and a Razer Kishi, neither of those peripherals will work with the Duo as it is too big to fit into those peripherals. Meaning, you can use it with a Bluetooth Xbox controller and in the tent posture and that’s about it.

And in that setup, the experience is fine but there is a lot of potential here that Microsoft has yet to realize with the Duo. But, given the Duo just launched, xCloud (sorry Cloud Gaming) isn’t technically out of beta, and that Duo will only be a fraction of 1% of those playing xCloud initially, Microsoft likely hasn’t invested the effort to fully embrace what is capable on this hardware.

That being said, I can only hope that they do eventually build out the “3DS” experience for the Duo as these two Microsoft products can quickly become the peanut butter and jelly of the mobile gaming space if they do go down this path.

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