Microsoft’s Xbox brand has been undergoing a significant transition during the past couple of years. A brand that was once lost in its direction has found its place in the gaming world and is driving significant change in how we think about console experiences.
In the last decade, console gaming has been exactly that, a game tied explicitly to a piece of hardware and only accessible to those who can pay the upfront cost for the device. But with Cloud Gaming, Microsoft is removing that barrier and is allowing consumers to play in the waters that were exclusively locked behind a hardware paywall.
Today, you can play Cloud Gaming on iOS, Android, and in the browser (some services are still in limited beta) but there is one area that is still lacking in access to the gaming service and it’s likely one of the most lucrative end-points; the living room.
Microsoft is announcing today a new initiative that will close the loop on end-points for Cloud Gaming. The company is working with TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions that will work natively with Xbox controllers. Meaning, you will be able to connect your controller to these TVs and play Xbox content with an Xbox Game Pass subscription.
But for TVs and devices that do not have this functionality, Microsoft is working on a solution. The company has confirmed that it is working on standalone streaming devices to access cloud gaming.
Liz Hamren, CVP of Gaming Experiences & Platforms stated during a recent media event that “we’re working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Game Pass experience directly into internet-connected TVs so all you’ll need to play is a controller. Beyond that, we’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience.”
While we do not have an expected launch timeline yet for this hardware, it is the natural evolution of the service. Microsoft is pushing aggressively to bring its Game Pass subscription to as many users as possible and with a low-cost device like a streaming stick (or similar style hardware), this opens the door to many more users.
The idea of a streaming stick is not new, Microsoft built such a device many years ago that was codenamed Hobart. That device never made its way to the market but it’s clear that Microsoft has been pursuing this type of technology for many years.