Xbox boss Phil Spencer says the company is planning to bring its Xbox Game Pass not just to PC, but to "every device" it can.
Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service that gives gamers instant access to 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, which includes all of its first-party games such as Forza Horizon 4, State of Decay 2, and Sea of Thieves, and is expected to include upcoming Gears 5 and Halo Infinite. Right now, the service is only available via Xbox One, and costs $10/£8 a month.
At a recent Barclays conference (thanks, GameSpot) in San Francisco, California, Spencer said that as well as plans to bring its subscription service to PC, Microsoft hopes to see its Xbox Game Pass also come on mobile, securing a reach of not just millions but billions of gamers worldwide. Spencer also intimated that Microsoft’s recent acquisitions – such as RPG specialists Obsidian Entertainment and InXile, as well as Playground Games, Ninja Theory, Undead Labs, and Compulsion Games – has been to ensure the company is building a bigger network of studios to "help support its efforts for Xbox Game Pass".
"When you think about reaching a customer with this content where their only compute device could be an Android phone, you think about, ‘What are all the ways that person pays for content today’?" Spencer said. "So we need to make sure that we’re world-class at free-to-play content, but we also look at subscription as a much lower barrier way for a customer to build a library of content."
"So we built Xbox Game Pass–it started on console, it will come to PC, and eventually it will come to every device–we use the flywheel that we have with customers on an Xbox to start the growth in Xbox Game Pass. But as somebody sitting back and taking a longer-term view of where our business is going, you should look at that as a business model that we think scales to billions of people not hundreds of millions of people like retail does."
It’s thought Microsoft’s recently announced game streaming service, Project xCloud, may sit at the centre of these plans. The service, for which closed trials are starting now, uses Xbox console components embedded into Microsoft’s Azure cloud-computing centres to deliver console games to phones, tablets, and beyond. Gamespot reports Spencer confirmed he was testing the service himself, and stated the megacorp was "uniquely positioned for success in streaming" because it can already cut down latency issues via the Azure centers Microsoft already has in place around the world.
"Developers and researchers at Microsoft Research are creating ways to combat latency through advances in networking topology, and video encoding and decoding," said Kareem Choudhry, corporate vice president, Gaming Cloud. "Project xCloud will have the capability to make game streaming possible on 4G networks and will dynamically scale to push against the outer limits of what’s possible on 5G networks as they roll out globally. Currently, the test experience is running at 10 megabits per second. Our goal is to deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every device and network."