Xbox has quietly been building toward the future with its next-gen console and Game Pass subscription service. The all-inclusive bundle, known as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, gives users access to Xbox Live, cloud gaming, an EA Play membership, and of course, the keys to a catalog of more than 100 games that can be played on console, PC, tablets, and mobile devices.
It’s this slow and steady approach — especially when it comes to cloud gaming — that make us excited about the console’s future, which as it turns out, may be more tied to touch controls than one would think.
As pointed out by Windowscentral, touch controls — tappable controls directly on the screen of the device you’re using — are shaping up as a way for Xbox to attract more users to its subscription service. Just recently, the company announced the implementation of a set of clarity algorithms that will go a long way in improving the overall playing experience, by improving the graphical presentation of cloud streams across all platforms.
Additionally, an Azure blog post reports that 20 percent of cloud players are using touch controls exclusively to play games on Game Pass Ultimate. Players are also more than twice as likely to play play titles on the service when using touch. The reason is most likely related to the ease of it all, as players do not need a controller to get started.
Easier on devs— Right now an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription is the only way to play cloud games on mobile devices. Games like Dragon’s Quest XI, Hades, Minecraft Dungeons, Yakuza: Like a Dragon, and Scarlet Nexus are seeing close to a third of their users playing exclusively with touch. In order to encourage this trend, Microsoft is providing resources for developers to bring their games to the cloud — including this GitHub sample project — and then leveraging touch controls once the game in question is cloud-compatible.
There are certainly downsides to touch controls, like a lack of complete precision and control. The tactile comfort of a controller also is more intuitive, at least for now. To combat this, games like Sea of Thieves provide contextual action buttons rather than the standard ABXY layout.
It also doesn’t look like Xbox is slowing down when it comes to bringing touch-enabled games onto its subscription service. More than 100 titles are touch-compatible through Game Pass, with more being added on a semi-regular basis.