Xbox Cloud Gaming is Microsoft’s aptly named cloud gaming service, and allows anyone with a decent internet connection to stream games remotely to their laptop, web browser, phone, tablet or any other where she can install the application.

So how does it work? Usually, when you download and play a game on your Xbox, all the processing of game code and graphics happens on your living room console. With Xbox Cloud Gaming, you don’t need the console.

Instead, all of this complex processing is handled online on one of Microsoft’s server farms, and the resulting video stream is streamed to your device over the internet. You’re essentially playing games on a shared Xbox Series X hundreds of miles away, rather than just one in the same room. Think of it like watching a live Twitch stream, but you can control what’s happening on screen.

However, this has some drawbacks. Inputs from your controller take a fraction of a second to be sent to the server, and the video stream takes fractions of a second to return to your device, so cloud gaming can feel less responsive in fast-paced games. As internet speeds improve, this delay becomes less and less noticeable, although anyone with a slower internet connection will see reduced performance and dropouts.

To help mitigate this, the game’s resolution can be dynamically scaled down and compressed to take up less bandwidth, so you sometimes get less visual fidelity than when playing a game you’ve downloaded.

Cloud games also have great advantages. The most obvious is that you can play the latest Xbox Series X games without owning the console. You can even stream them to your iPhone or Android device, as long as you have a compatible Bluetooth controller.

How does Xbox cloud gaming work?

If you already own an Xbox, streaming still has advantages over downloading. Since Xbox Cloud Gaming games run remotely on a very powerful server, you can directly access any game without waiting for a download to complete. Load times are reduced and you can join your friends in multiplayer gaming sessions as easily as pressing play on a Netflix movie.

‘Forza Horizon 5’, available on Xbox Cloud Gaming

(Microsoft)

Microsoft hasn’t said outright that Xbox Cloud Gaming is here to replace traditional console gaming, but the company is laying the groundwork to expand its audience far beyond just gamers who own an Xbox. Thanks in large part to Microsoft’s success in deploying Azure data centers in countries around the world, the company is well ahead of rival Sony in bringing cloud gaming to anyone with a screen and a computer. an Internet connection.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is part of Microsoft’s new “Xbox Everywhere” initiative, which, if successful, could eventually make the physical Xbox console redundant. Just as Netflix and Spotify conspired with widespread broadband adoption to kill Blu-Ray players and personal music collections, cloud gaming could turn Xbox from a commodity into a service.

How to Use Xbox Cloud Gaming

The number of devices supporting Xbox Cloud Gaming is growing rapidly, but whichever way you decide to play, you’ll first need to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (£10.99 per month, Xbox.com) . New members get their first month for £1, and you’re free to cancel whenever you want.

However, as of last week there is an Xbox Cloud Gaming title that you don’t need to pay for. Fortnite was recently added as a free game, with even more free games expected to arrive in the coming months. This means you don’t need to pay for an Xbox Live Gold or Xbox Game Pass Ultimate membership to play Fortnite on Xbox Cloud Gaming, but you do need to create a free Microsoft account. Once registered, you can browse and play games on the Xbox Cloud Gaming homepage.

‘Fortnite’, available for free on Xbox Cloud Gaming

(Epic Games)

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate gives you access to a mobile library of over 100 games, including day-of-release Xbox Game Studios games, indie games, third-party games, and classic titles from as far back as Xbox. origin. Not all of these games are available on Xbox Cloud Gaming, but most are.

Microsoft is also working on an Xbox streaming app for smart TVs and an Amazon Fire TV dongle-style dongle that will allow any TV with an HDMI port to instantly stream Xbox games to Xbox Cloud Gaming.

Does Xbox Cloud Gaming work on iPhone?

Yes. Apple did not initially support the Xbox Cloud Gaming app on iOS, citing App Store rules on how paid content and in-game purchases work. Microsoft managed to work around the issue by integrating Xbox Cloud Gaming in a web browser. Rather than downloading an app, iPhone users can simply go to Xbox.com/play in the Safari browser to launch Xbox Cloud Gaming as usual.

Interestingly, this new setup means iPhone users can play Fortnite again for the first time since Epic Games removed the game from the App Store, following a high-profile row with Apple over reduction in platform profits.

‘Microsoft Flight Simulator’, available for free on Xbox Cloud Gaming

(Microsoft)

There are games that can be played using touch controls, fortnite is one, but for a more comfortable, console-like experience, you’ll want to use a phone clip to tether your iPhone to a compatible Bluetooth controller, like the official Xbox Wireless Controller (£54.99, Bt.com) or even the PlayStation DualShock 4 Wireless Controller (£49.99, Currys.co.uk).

Is Xbox Cloud Gaming free?

Xbox Cloud Gaming isn’t free, with one exception. Microsoft has partnered with Epic Games to bring fortnite to the Xbox Cloud Gaming service for anyone with a free Microsoft account. This means you can open a new browser tab right now and be playing in minutes.

To play games that are not fortnite, you’ll need an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription (£10.99 per month, Xbox.com). The company also suggested that it plans to bring more free games to Xbox Cloud Gaming in the coming months.

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