One announcement stole the show during Xbox's Gamescom 2021 livestream on August 24: Microsoft is finally going to let players stream games from the cloud on their consoles.
Have you ever wanted to play next-gen games on your old hardware? You’ll be able to do that soon on Xbox One.
Later this year, the Xbox Cloud Gaming service currently available on iOS, Android, and web browsers will also work on Xbox One, Series S, and Series X. This means that you’ll be able to play supported games on those consoles at a 1080p resolution and 60 FPS framerate without even installing them.
This is a major stride forward for cloud gaming, which has struggled to gain a mainstream foothold. It’s also the death knell for services like Google Stadia and Amazon Luna, given the virtually insurmountable competition posed by Xbox Game Pass.
“Our goal is to connect gamers with their friends and a worldwide community of players, a Microsoft spokesperson told Inverse in May 2021. “We are doing this by embracing multiple devices through cloud gaming and meeting the player where they want to play.”
Google Stadia, Amazon Luna, and Xbox Cloud Gaming are all trying to sell some variation of that ideal to players. Playing console games on any device as long as you have a good internet connection is a tantalizing prospect. Unfortunately, cloud gaming has never really lived up to that promise ... until now.
Stadia and Luna have underperformed due to weak game libraries, faulty technology, and limited appeal. Microsoft doesn’t have to deal with any of these problems. Xbox Game Pass has such a good game library that it’s become a meme. Microsoft Azure data-centers provide a backbone for the necessary technology, and millions of people already have Xbox consoles in their homes.
As next-gen consoles like the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S are still super hard to find, being able to play next-gen versions of titles like Forza Horizon 5 or next-gen exclusive titles like Microsoft Flight Simulator and The Medium is very appealing to Xbox One players.
Meanwhile, Xbox Series X and S players will appreciate how this solves a major problem with next-gen systems. Series X only has 1 TB of hard drive space, while Series S only has 512 GB. Microsoft does sell a 2 TB proprietary storage expansion card, but your hard drive can quickly fill up with large games like Microsoft Flight Simulator and Destiny 2.
Once this feature is available to the masses, you’ll be able to offload games to the cloud so storage isn’t an issue. Being able to play these games via the cloud as they take a while to install is another large bonus. Xbox is reportedly investing in cloud-focused titles, and those will open up new opportunities with the technology without Microsoft completely abandoning console players.
Google and Amazon struggle to explain why players should choose cloud gaming over traditional consoles. Meanwhile, Microsoft can have the best of both worlds while giving players real, palpable benefits.
This announcement makes the future of cloud gaming brighter than ever, even if Microsoft solely dominates that future.
Cloud Gaming will come to Xbox consoles during the 2021 holiday season.