(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft has its own cloud gaming platform, which is now available in 22 countries.
Previously called Project xCloud, Cloud Gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers more than 150 Xbox One games to be played on Android devices over a data connection and is easy to get started with.
Here then is everything you need to know about the Xbox cloud games service, including what devices are compatible and all the available games.
What is Cloud Gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?
It is a streaming service, in that all games are hosted on remote servers and live gameplay video is sent to a compatible device over the internet. In return, controller codes are sent in the other direction so, for all intents and purposes, it feels like you are playing a game loaded on the device itself.
It is not a new idea; PlayStation Now has been available on PS4 consoles for several years; Nvidia launched the full GeForce Now service in early 2020; and Cloud Gaming's major rival, Google's Stadia, launched in November 2019. However, Microsoft's service is not a separate offering - it is a no-cost addition to its existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership scheme.
The company also has one of the largest network of data centres around the world.
This, combined with the company's Azure cloud server network, will ensure that game requests can be served locally rather than across continents, potentially reducing latency by shortening the distance between the end user and the data centre.
Latency is the enemy of cloud gaming, often adding many milliseconds between button presses and actions performed on screen. And, while that doesn't sound like much, milliseconds are vital when it comes to gaming. Say you press the button to shoot an onrushing enemy, a few milliseconds of latency can be the difference between hitting them and not. Or, in a driving game such as Forza Horizon 4, the difference between successfully drifting around a corner or ending up wrapped around a tree.
Does that mean my Xbox One or other games console will be defunct in future?
Cloud Gaming is not designed to replace existing or future games consoles. Instead, it runs parallel to the company's machines, offering many of the same games and even allowing for save games to be picked up and continued no matter which device you use: mobile, console or even PC.
As it is available as part of the company's Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership scheme, which also includes over 200 games to download to the Xbox One, 100 games for PC, Xbox Live Gold and, from November, EA Play, it is seen very much as an extension to Xbox One gaming and, eventually, Xbox Series X/S too.
Essentially, Cloud Gaming is an ideal way for you to carry-on your Xbox experience on a portable device, whether you are at home or out and about.
When and where will I be able to use Xbox Cloud Gaming?
You can play cloud games through the app, plus wishlist and even download games to your Xbox One or Windows PC.
The service could come to more platforms in time, although you shouldn't hold your breath for iOS support anytime soon.
Among the countries covered are Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, UK and the US. You can see a full list of countries with Cloud Gaming support here.
The app requires a phone or tablet running Android 6.0 or greater and with Bluetooth 4.0 at least. You also need a Microsoft account.
One of the games - Minecraft Dungeons - does feature touch controls, which could also be extended to other games in future. However, for now, you will also need a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One Wireless Controller to play the rest of the titles. Xbox also recommends you acquire a phone mount for the controller, unless you are playing using a tablet.
The mount is reasonably inexpensive, however. We've found a pack of three of them for just £7.99 on Amazon.co.uk, for example.
How much does Cloud Gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate cost?
As the long version of its name suggests, Cloud Gaming is free to all those with an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the all-you-can-eat digital download service for Xbox One and Windows 10, is £10.99 / $14.99 per month.
What devices work with Cloud Gaming?
At launch Cloud Gaming will only work with Android devices, namely tablets or smartphones.
It also works on Chromebooks with the latest version of Chrome OS. You just download the same Android Xbox Game Pass app from Google Play, connect a Bluetooth controller and away you go.
There are currently no plans that we know of for the service to be available on Android TV boxes, other streaming devices or Smart TVs. As a complementary mobile service to Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S gaming, we doubt it will ever appear on other big screen platforms.
What is Xbox Console Streaming?
As well as Cloud Gaming, Xbox Console Streaming is available.
Using the same technology, gamers can use their own Xbox One consoles as a Cloud Gaming server and therefore stream their own games to a portable device.
PlayStation offers something similar in the form of PS4 Remote Play, but Xbox Console Streaming is different as you aren't restricted to having to be on the same home network, you can also stream over a mobile data connection.
You can find out more about it here.
Cloud Gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games list
Here is the current list of all the available games on Cloud Gaming (as of 15 September 2020):
- A Plague Tale: Innocence
- Age of Wonders: Planetfall
- ARK: Survival Evolved
- Batman: Arkham Knight
- Battle Chasers: Nightwar
- Black Desert
- Blair Witch
- Bleeding Edge
- Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night
- Bridge Constructor Portal
- Children of Morta
- Crackdown 3: Campaign
- Darksiders Genesis
- Darksiders III
- de Blob
- Dead by Daylight
- Dead Cells
- Dead Island Definitive Edition
- Death Squared
- Deliver us the moon
- Demon’s Tilt
- Destiny 2: Shadowkeep & Forsaken expansion (available from 22 September)
- DiRT 4
- Don’t Starve
- Double Kick Heroes
- Drake Hollow
- Dungeon of the Endless
- Enter The Gungeon
- F1 2019
- Fallout 76
- Farming Simulator 17
- Felix the Reaper
- Fishing Sim World: Pro Tour
- For the King
- Forza Horizon 4
- Fractured Minds
- Frostpunk: Console Edition
- Gato Roboto
- Gears of War 1: Ultimate Edition
- Gears of War 4
- Gears of War 5
- Goat Simulator
- Golf with Your Friends
- Guacamelee! 2
- Halo 5: Guardians
- Halo Wars 1: Definitive Edition
- Halo Wars 2
- Halo: The Master Chief Collection
- Halo: Spartan Assault
- Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice
- Hello Neighbor
- Hollow Knight (Renewal)
- Hot Shot Racing
- Human Fall Flat
- Hypnospace Outlaw
- Journey to the Savage Planet
- Katana ZERO (coming soon)
- Killer Instinct DE
- Lonely Mountains: Downhill
- Marvel vs. Capcom: Infinite
- Metro 2033 Redux
- Middle Earth: Shadow of War
- Minecraft: Dungeons
- Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight
- Mortal Kombat X (not available in Korea)
- Mount & Blade: Warband
- Moving Out
- Munchkin: Quacked Quest
- Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
- My Time At Portia
- Neon Abyss
- New Super Lucky’s Tale
- Night Call
- Night in the Woods (coming soon)
- No Man’s Sky
- Nowhere Prophet
- Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
- Ori and the Will of the Wisps
- Overcooked! 2
- Pathologic 2
- Pillars of Eternity: Complete Edition
- Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid
- ReCore: Definitive Edition
- Remnant: From the Ashes
- Resident Evil 7 Biohazard
- Rise & Shine
- River City Girls (coming soon)
- Sea of Thieves: Anniversary Edition
- Sea Salt
- Secret Neighbor
- Shadow Warrior 2
- Slay the Spire
- Sniper Elite 4
- State of Decay 2: Juggernaut Edition
- Stranger Things 3: The Game
- Streets of Rage 4
- Streets of Rogue
- Surviving Mars
- Tell Me Why Episode 1 – 3
- The Bard’s Tale IV: Directors Cut
- The Bard’s Tale Remastered and Resnarkled
- The Bard’s Tale Trilogy
- The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Tactics
- The Elder Scrolls Online
- The Gardens Between
- The Jackbox Party Pack 4
- The Long Dark
- The Lord of the Rings: Adventure Card Game
- The Messenger
- The Outer Worlds
- The Surge 2
- The Touryst
- The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
- The Escapists 2
- The Talos Principle
- The Turing Test
- The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 1 through 5
- The Walking Dead: Michonne – Episode 1 – 3
- The Walking Dead: Season Two
- theHunter: Call of the Wild
- Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales
- Totally Accurate Battle Simulator
- Totally Reliable Delivery Service
- Touhou Luna Nights
- Tracks – The Train Set Game
- Train Sim World 2020
- Two Point Hospital
- Untitled Goose Game
- Void Bastards
- Warhammer Vermintide 2 (coming soon)
- Wasteland Remastered
- Wasteland 2: Director’s Cut
- Wasteland 3
- We Happy Few
- West of Dead
- Wizard of Legend
- World War Z
- Worms W.M.D
- Xeno Crisis
- Yakuza 0
- Yakuza Kiwami
- Yakuza Kiwami 2