If you’ve been unable to secure a graphics card in these trying times, you’re about to gain another gaming alternative. Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service will land on PCs, iPads, and iPhones in limited form on April 20, expanding beyond its initial Android-only offering.
“Starting tomorrow, we’ll begin sending out invites to select Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to start testing the Xbox Cloud Gaming limited beta for Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets via web browsers,” Microsoft’s Catherine Gluckstein said in the announcement. “We’re launching xbox.com/play where invitees can play over 100 Xbox Game Pass titles through Edge, Google Chrome, or Safari…
“The limited beta is our time to test and learn; we’ll send out more invites on a continuous basis to players in all 22 supported countries, evaluate feedback, continue to improve the experience, and add support for more devices. Our plan is to iterate quickly and open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months so more people have the opportunity to play Xbox in all-new ways.”
This beta will launch with over 50 games available. Microsoft recommends using custom touch controls or connecting a compatible Bluetooth or USB controller to play.
Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly known as Project xCloud) streams Xbox games to supported devices, and is included “free” with Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which costs $15 per month (unless you know how to work the system). It’s well worth the money if you have any interest in streaming games, especially if you want to game on a laptop or desktop that lacks a rocking graphics card. You’ll gain access to tons of excellent games, too. Xbox Game Pass for PC is the best deal in PC gaming at $10 per month; even if you don’t have an Xbox console, upgrading to Game Pass Ultimate adds streaming capabilities for just $5 more per month. If you’re considering snagging it solely for streaming games to a computer you might want to wait until Microsoft opens PC streaming to all comers, however.
Before the arrival of Xbox Cloud Gaming on PCs, there was no reason for a PC gamer to subscribe to the pricier Xbox Game Pass Ultimate unless they also owned an Xbox console. This launch changes things.
Keep in mind that Xbox Cloud Gaming revolves around Microsoft’s console library though. If you prefer a more PC-centric approach to playing games from the cloud, give Nvidia’s rival GeForce Now service a long, hard look instead. Rather than offering a selection of games you can play in Netflix-like fashion (as Xbox Cloud Gaming does), GeForce Now hooks into your existing libraries on PC platforms like Steam and the Epic Games Store, allowing you to stream hundreds of compatible titles. Better yet, Nvidia offers a fully free tier that you can play as much as you want, or charges just $10 per month to unlock a Premium membership with much longer session times and ray-tracing capabilities in select games.