Microsoft’s Gaming Strategy? Xbox Everywhere

Posted on June 10, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Mobile gaming, PC gaming, Project xCloud, Xbox, Xbox Series S, Xbox Series X with 32 Comments

Ahead of its Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on Sunday, where it will reveal its best and biggest-ever games lineup, Microsoft has provided some context for its gaming platform. And it amounts to “Xbox everywhere.”

“We believe that games, that interactive entertainment, aren’t really about hardware and software. It’s not about pixels. It’s about people. Games bring people together,” Microsoft Head of Xbox Phil Spencer says. “Games build bridges and forge bonds, generating mutual empathy among people all over the world. Joy and community – that’s why we’re here.”

“Gaming is fundamentally aligned with our mission as a company,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, cutting right to the business case. “When you talk about Xbox’s mission to bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone on the planet, which I absolutely love, that is precisely aligned with Microsoft’s mission, which is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Just a few short years ago, Xbox was basically just a videogame console platform, but Microsoft has expanded the brand into PC gaming, mobile gaming, and, more recently, subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And while it’s still early on in this platform transition, Microsoft has already seen some interesting progress.

Xbox Game Pass has become what Microsoft calls “a game discovery engine,” and it is driving game sales, rather than detracting from them as some critics predicted. Xbox Game Pass members play 40 percent more games across 30 percent more genres than do non-members, and 90 percent of them have tried games they would not have otherwise experienced. Microsoft’s gaming partners have seen engagement jump by 800 percent when they make their games available on the service, and members spend 200 percent more than non-members on game and content purchases.

I’m particularly interested in some specific successes that Microsoft cites, however. EA Play, Electronic Arts’ subscription service, has seen record usage on Xbox Game Pass since it was added as a no-extra-cost perk, with time spent on these titles up over 200 percent; EA Play’s catalog has reached and gained millions of new fans on the Xbox platform, Microsoft says. The Square Enix title Outriders was the number one selling digital game on Xbox during its launch week and a top 10 selling digital game on Xbox in April, despite being available on Xbox Game Pass. And MLB: The Show 21 was the biggest sports game of the past year on Xbox and the second biggest sports game of all time on Xbox, with Game Pass adding millions of new fans and growing the player base significantly.

But I’m even more interested in the future. Here’s what Microsoft has planned for Xbox Game Pass:

Smart TV integration. Xbox is working with TV manufacturers to embed “the Xbox experience” directly into internet-connected televisions, so games won’t need any extra hardware, aside from a controller, to play games.

New subscription offerings. This is a bit vague, but Microsoft says it is “exploring new subscription offerings for Xbox Game Pass so more players around the world can experience the most immersive and fun games across devices, geographies, and financial realities.”

Xbox All Access expansion. Microsoft is working with telecommunications providers on new purchasing models like Xbox All Access, which lets customers buy a console and Game Pass subscription for a low monthly price, rather than paying upfront.

New streaming devices. Microsoft is building its own streaming devices for cloud gaming so that customers can play games on any display without needing a console. This is an exciting development, and Brad has prepared a separate article if you want more information.

Market expansion. Xbox Cloud Gaming through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will launch in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico later this year.

Xbox Cloud Gaming via web browsers. In “the next few weeks,” cloud gaming on the browser will open to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members And will work with Microsoft Edge, Google Chrome, and Apple Safari.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is moving to Xbox Series X. Today, Microsoft streams Xbox Cloud Gaming titles via Xbox One X consoles in its datacenters around the world. But the firm is now in the final stages of switching over to newer and more powerful Xbox Series X consoles. “This means gamers will see faster load times, improved frame rates, and experience Xbox Series X|S optimized games” via Xbox Cloud Gaming, Microsoft says.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to the Xbox app on PC. Later this year, Microsoft will add Xbox Cloud Gaming capabilities to the Xbox app on PC.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is coming to Xbox consoles too. Also later this year, Microsoft will and integrate Xbox Cloud Gaming into its console experience to light up scenarios like try before you download.

As important, Microsoft has what it calls “an incredible pipeline of games” coming. There are over 23 game studios creating Xbox games worldwide and Microsoft plans to release at least one first-party game into Xbox Game Pass every quarter going forward. Many of those games will be publicly showcased for the first time this coming Sunday.

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Comments (32)

32 responses to “Microsoft’s Gaming Strategy? Xbox Everywhere”

  1. Avatar

    yoshi

    My excitement level is pretty much maxed out. Can't wait for Sunday.

  2. Avatar

    adam.mt

    EE being one of the biggest (and best 4G/5G) mobile provider for the UK.

  3. Avatar

    allancm

    The only thing I am not happy is that they actually forbidding to use the cloud gaming regionally. It should not be restricted. I already have game pass ultimate from more than 1 year and I cannot play cloud gaming because of restrictions on regional stuff. It should just restrict the speed on the internet not on the region you are located!

  4. Avatar

    kenosando

    I did do na experiment where I side-loaded the Xbox App on my Android TV (Sony) and it wasn't great, but considering the target app was for a 5"-10" screen, not 65", it is understandable. I am still disappointed MS cancelled their Xbox Mini/Streaming device a couple years ago, but I may hopeful we can move away for basing gaming solely on large gaming rigs and have the power of cloud/streaming introduce new platforms, audiences, and grow even further. My only hesitation is smart TVs are not great - rarely do they get updates, support all the features of the services (HDR10, 4K/60fps, Dolby, etc.) soy hopes would be to see the streaming device that looks just like Xbox remote play today.

    • Avatar

      bettyblue

      The CPU in a TV is going to be very low end. Just launch a built in App like Netflix on those things. They are slower, in a big way, than say a Apple TV.

  5. Avatar

    vladimir

    I think the controller will be a problem in the long run. I hope Microsoft cones up with a wireless solution like stadia and Luna. Even with stadia there is a noticeable lag difference between a Bluetooth controller connected to the streaming box and the wireless controller that connects directly to the cloud gaming service

  6. Avatar

    Mark from CO

    I get the attraction of games, really. But in an industry known for it's shooter games and other counter politic offerings, one has to be bemused at Phil Spencer's quote “Games build bridges and forge bonds, generating mutual empathy among people all over the world. Joy and community – that’s why we’re here.”

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      That's like saying that TV is violent, period, because of "The Sopranos." You're very much missing the point that gaming is just as diverse as TV/movies/whatever, with something for everyone. And because you can be interacting with actual people in real time, it's more of a community than other forms of entertainment can ever be. Consider. You can convene every night on the couch with some family member to watch TV. Or you can convene with people from all over the world to play a game. Both are fine. But the latter can be a much more profound event.
      • Avatar

        christianwilson

        My son and his cousin in Australia met when they were a year old, so they don't remember anything about each other. They both play Minecraft together online. They are a literal world apart, and they play as though they are in the same room together. It's an awesome thing to see.


        Games do connect people in brilliant, positive ways.

        • Avatar

          Paul Thurrott

          Right! I had the same experience with my son many years ago. I walked by his room and could hear weird music playing so I asked what he was doing. He was playing Minecraft. Then this guy floated by in the game and I asked what that was. It was his cousin who lives in Pennsylvania. Nice. What are you doing? Building a world. Excellent. You guys have fun.
    • Avatar

      stillj

      The comment about forging bonds has to do with players playing games together, talking about fave games together, writing about fave games together, etc etc.... You name it, the gaming community is very connected. And this is what he means about forging bonds.

      Just a gamer viewpoint here.....

  7. Avatar

    adam.mt

    So if the Cloud hardware upgrade is nearly ready surely that means Microsoft 'could have' allocated more Series X's to retail but didn't because of the importance of this upgrade? 🤔

  8. Avatar

    pete

    They should consider making an xCloud app for Xbox 360. How cool would that be?

  9. Avatar

    adam.mt

    Re. the cloud hardware upgrade, I thought it was currently running on One S equivalents, not One X? Series X will be a big improvement for those slow loading times.


    Re. Smart TVs, an easy win would be enabling Cloud Gaming via the Chrome browser on Android TV/Google TV (inc. latest Chromecast). Already have Bluetooth support for the controller(s) and a CPU/RAM capable of reasonable android gaming.


    Re. Integration with communication providers, seems Microsoft is already working with EE in the UK since (i) if you purchase Game Pass thru them it's £10/mth with unlimited gaming data and (ii) you can purchase an xbox (and er, PlayStation and some other gadgets) interest free, monthly payments added to your mobile bill.

  10. Avatar

    omen_20

    I'm hoping we get news about xCloud including PC games and not just Xbox games that can be streamed on a PC. For me that's the real value proposition behind Ultimate. I want to be able to play Anno 1800 and the like for those few weekends a year when I get the itch. An expensive gaming PC just doesn't make financial sense for the amount of time I'd use it.


    So far xCloud is just a console experience that helps with speed to play, demos, and the ability to make a phone into a GameBoy.

  11. Avatar

    Jippa Wip

    There is literally nothing to dislike in this announcement!


    This is all good and exciting for Xbox fans!

  12. Avatar

    beckoningeagle

    Just like Windows everywhere in the 90's early 00's.


    Be afraid, be very afraid.

  13. Avatar

    duncanator

    They almost have to do this because you can't actually find a Series X to buy.

  14. Avatar

    srrlx1986

    Nice, still trying to get Xbox Game pass to work on my Android TV though

  15. Avatar

    wunderbar

    upgrading the Xbox cloud gaming hardware to Series X is going to make the biggest difference to that. There are some games that I actually don't mind playing on my phone, but the load times are really hard to take.


    If I have 20 minutes to play, and it takes 5 minutes of loading before I can actually start actively playing, that'll turn people off when gaming on mobile devices is very much a "pick this up, instantly start, play for 10 minutes, and put it down"

  16. Avatar

    geekwithkids

    I've been waiting for XCloud on XBox. That's is a great way to help with the storage issues of something like the Series S.


    Do you know if it will be coming to the XBox One?

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      It's not clear, but it could be. The Microsoft quote is "Later this year, we’ll add cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC and integrate it into our console experience to light up scenarios like try before you download."

  17. Avatar

    bettyblue

    To this date any "cloud" streaming game system I have tried pales in comparison to the a local copy of the game on the PC or console. The issue is Microsoft or any other player has no control over the network in-between their cloud and the user.


    Yes faster XSX consoles in the cloud help. Buffering, compression etc helps (for single player games mostly) but at the end of the day that "LAG" is still going to be there for some/most users and it makes the experience less than a local copy.


    I am all for this, because I believe it's the future, but just make sure we have a local copy option (consoles/PC) for those of us the care about that until we all have gigabit+/low latency internet connections.


    The worse case scenario would be using a TV with a built in "Xbox Cloud" app over a laggy internet connection. That combination would be horrible. Much like the built in apps like Netflix etc is on TV's today.

  18. Avatar

    compsciguy31415

    It would be interesting if they did something with the NVidia Shield as well. It's a 4K streamer, so it could handle whatever their cloud gaming service has to offer.

  19. Avatar

    campbell

    This is the long game win. Microsoft would love to be the market leader for game streaming services for Xbox and I’d imagine other suppliers too.

  20. Avatar

    Ron Diaz

    I’m old enough to remember Microsoft’s original “Windows Everywhere” strategy. I saw how that turned out.

    Let’s just say I’m a bit skeptical about this….

  21. Avatar

    winner

    XBox - it's the NEW WINDOWS!!!

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