If you’ve read the title of this article and immediately said “What? It already is, isn’t it?” I really wouldn’t blame you. The better explanation is that xCloud is coming to PC (and iOS!) in Spring 2021, which isn’t that far around the corner.
In its current iteration, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate does technically exist on PC. Subscribers to Microsoft’s service can access the massive library of over 100 titles (including some serious heavyweights like Doom: Eternal and Battlefield V thanks to EA Play getting folded in for free) but the big catch is that you still need a machine powerful enough to actually play the title. What that means is that without a PC capable of playing those games if you bought them through Steam or the Epic Game Store, you won’t be able to take advantage of the Game Pass Ultimate library.
The streaming service known as xCloud, which has been available on Android for a while, would change that dramatically. As long as you have a strong enough internet connection, you could feasibly play titles like those I mentioned above on your four-year-old laptop like I probably will be. The caveat here is that you need a pretty strong internet connection. The blog post doesn’t share any specifics in terms of what you’ll need, but if it’s anything like Nvidia’s GeForce Now or even Google Stadia, you’ll want a rock steady 5G connection.
If you’re hoping that your WiFi will be able to cut it, odds are that it could, as long as no one else is connected or actively using it for anything like Netflix, Zoom, or gaming on a console or PC. This has been, and will continue to be, game streaming’s biggest problem for the foreseeable future, one that I don’t really see going away any time soon.
While it’s certainly cool to know that I could grind out some bounties in Destiny 2: Beyond Light while I’m on my lunch break at work, the real world dictates a totally different reality. The simple fact of the matter is that game streaming just won’t be feasible until companies like Microsoft and Google can circumvent the bandwidth problem most people run into when it comes to streaming a game like Destiny 2 or Halo Infinite or internet bandwidth and speeds get to a point where it’s possible to stream a game like this in a Starbucks (whenever it’s safe to go out again) or at home with your family watching Netflix, working from home, and gaming on a console all at the same time.
I did mention higher up that xCloud would be coming to iOS, and it seems like it’s finally happening for real. By having users access the service through a web browser on their phone or tablet, players will still be able to access the full xCloud experience while circumventing Apple’s insane and archaic rules that demand companies upload entire games to the App Store that can then be bought (giving Apple a chunk of the profits) and played through the cloud on iOS devices. So far, there’s been nothing from Apple on this loophole, but it’s still 2020, and there’s plenty of time for Apple to once again prove why they’re one of the least consumer-friendly companies in existence.
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