Microsoft continues cloud push as Xbox Game Pass set for more screens this year

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Ahead of its joint E3 2021 press conference with Bethesda on Sunday 13th June, Microsoft made a handful of important announcements as it pertains Xbox Game Pass. The gaming content delivery system has proved pivotal to Xbox’s recent success in the console wars with Sony and now Microsoft is doubling down, with plans to bring Game Pass to more screens later in the year.

To that end Microsoft is expanding the reach of Game Pass and in particular working with TV manufacturers in order embed the experience into forthcoming units, so players only need a controller in order to access and enjoy content, the company explained.

“We believe that Microsoft can play a leading role in democratizing gaming and defining the future of interactive entertainment. There are really three key areas where we believe we have an incredible competitive advantage: First, our leadership in cloud computing. Second, the resources we have to build our subscription service, Xbox Game Pass. And third, our overall focus on empowering creators,” noted Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a press briefing earlier today regarding the announcement.

You can watch Nadella and Xbox head, Phil Spencer, discussing aspects of it in the video below.

While all the finer points have not been fleshed out just yet, Xbox has laid out a few plans already, such as building its own streaming devices for cloud gaming that would work on any TV or monitor without the need for a console at all.

This new cloud gaming service through Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will launch in Australia, Brazil, Mexico and Japan later this year, the company confirmed, with no word yet on a precise date or indeed whether other regions of the world will get access in 2021 too.

Given that South Africa has an Azure data centre presence, hopefully this means we are also on the radar for this new cloud gaming service, but for right now, that remains to be seen.

Sticking with Azure, Microsoft also noted that, “We’re in the final stages of updating our Microsoft datacenters around the world with our latest generation of hardware, the Xbox Series X. This means gamers will see faster load times, improved frame rates, and experience Xbox Series X|S optimized games,” so perhaps there is hope.

Cloud gaming via a web browser is on the way too, with access on Edge, Chrome and Safari supported. There is no definitive date for this, but Microsoft it will be opened in the, “next few weeks”.

Along with the cloud gaming-related news, Microsoft added that it is exploring new subscription offerings for Game Pass so more players the content on offer, although what form these will take was not publicly divulged.

Lastly the company stated that, “Later this year, we’ll add cloud gaming directly into the Xbox app on PC and integrate it into our console experience to light up scenarios like try before you download.

With the company’s E3 2021 briefing only a few days away, there will likely be more information and announcements. In the interim, however, it looks like the gauntlet has very firmly been laid at the feet of PlayStation.

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Robin-Leigh Chetty

Editor of Hypertext. Covers smartphones, IoT, 5G, cloud computing and a few things in between. Also a keen photographer and dabbles in console games when not taking the hatchet to stories.