Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Will Include xCloud Streaming Access

Starting in September, you can play the Xbox Game Pass library through Microsoft's streaming tech.

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Xbox Game Pass seems like a natural fit for Microsoft's xCloud streaming technology. In a statement today about Xbox Series X, Phil Spencer confirmed how the two will work together beginning this fall.

Starting in September, in supported countries, a Game Pass Ultimate subscription will also include Project xCloud support. That means you'll be able to play the Game Pass library on your phone or tablet, with controller support and online play through Xbox Live servers. You'll also be able to pick up your progress right where you left off through cloud saves.

Though the statement from Spencer was generally about the upcoming future console generation and the launch of Xbox Series X, the Game Pass xCloud support wasn't posed as a Series X-exclusive feature. He has said before it's a natural way to let people try new games, which helps promote Series X games. And since it's included in Game Pass Ultimate, many users who already have subscriptions will simply gain access to the new feature in September when it launches.

"Customers have more freedom of choice now in how they consume content and how they spend their entertainment dollars than ever before," Spencer told GameSpot sister site CNET. "They view this world of selling one piece of hardware that's a closed ecosystem as a kind of relic of the past."

Xbox Game Pass is a subscription-based service that gives you a rotating selection of roughly 100 games. The console and PC subscriptions are separate at $10 apiece per month, but the combined Ultimate subscription also gives you Xbox Live Gold for $15 per month--and access to xCloud, soon. The libraries differ slightly between the console and PC versions of the service, and it sounds as if the xCloud access will include both libraries.

Project xCloud is Microsoft's streaming technology and has been undergoing closed testing phases for about a year. Similar to Google Stadia, it offloads the actual hardware processing power to a proprietary server rack, and streams you the video of your game as you play it. Microsoft has recently announced plans to upgrade some of its existing xCloud servers.

Meanwhile, Xbox Series X is launching sometime this fall. Microsoft has been open about its plans not to offer exclusive games at the start of the new generation, and games will simply be optimized for the right set of hardware with Smart Delivery. Microsoft has promised that all of its first-party games will support Smart Delivery, but it's up to third parties whether or not they want to participate in the program. Physical games that have been optimized for Xbox Series X will sport a large sticker indicating it. We'll learn more about its first-party lineup at a July 23 event that will only focus on games. Hardware specifications and release info will not mentioned.

Project xCloud is another avenue to easy access for games, letting you play them without needing to download a file at all. That may be welcome as games and updates continue to balloon to enormous sizes. Spencer has said he doesn't expect streaming to be the dominant way to play for a long time.

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