KEY POINTS

  • Xbox's Phil Spencer hinted that streaming sticks for xCloud gaming could happen in the future
  • Microsoft may also follow a tiered system for Xbox Game Pass with different levels of access 
  • The evolution of cloud gaming is opening up different possibilities for gamers and developers

As the xCloud gaming service evolves, Microsoft may see streaming sticks in the future.

Microsoft executive vice-president for gaming Phil Spencer recently shared that insight in an interview with Stratechery while addressing the possibility of a tiered system for Xbox Game Pass.

“I think you’re going to see lower-priced hardware as part of our ecosystem when you think about streaming sticks and other things that somebody might want to just go plug into their TV and go play via xCloud,” Spencer said.

“You could imagine us even having something that we just included in the Game Pass subscription that gave you an ability to stream xCloud games to your television and buying the controller,” he added.

The xCloud streaming service allows gamers to play Xbox games using Xbox touch controls on Android devices without the need for traditional gaming controllers. 

As far back as 2013, Microsoft already explored using streaming sticks and hardware when the company demonstrated playing “Halo 4” running on a Windows phone and PC while streaming from the cloud. Even back then, both Microsoft and Sony were laying the groundwork for streaming cloud services that have been coming to fruition only in recent years.

Still, with Spencer publicly stating this streaming stick option, it is possible that it could happen sooner rather than later, per The Verge. At present, xCloud is bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate at $14.99 a month, giving significant room for lower or higher tiers to be introduced should the need arise.

In Xbox All Access, Microsoft has been bundling an Xbox subscription and hardware together with access to Xbox Game Pass and the soon-to-launch Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S. However, a future Xbox Game Pass Platinum, with guaranteed access to new Xbox hardware, could also be in the cards, according to Spencer.

After entering into a partnership with Samsung for xCloud this year, the possibility of a game streaming service available on Samsung Smart TVs is all but inevitable. Still, not being on the App Store remains a challenge for xCloud despite its presence on Android devices.

In an interview last month, Spencer noted that the cloud is creating “a massive opportunity to stream console-quality games and play with the people you want, wherever you want.”

Xbox is combining its Game Pass with its cloud video game service to allow users to play games on their mobile devices Xbox is combining its Game Pass with its cloud video game service to allow users to play games on their mobile devices Photo: AFP / Ina FASSBENDER