Microsoft launches cloud gaming service on Xbox consoles

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Microsoft will bring its cloud gaming service to Xbox consoles later this year.

The company announced Tuesday that Xbox Cloud Gaming, which allows players to stream games instead of having to install them on a device, would arrive this holiday on its new Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles and older Xbox One machines.

US tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Amazon are betting on a future of video games beyond consoles, where subscription services and software will play a much larger role.

While Microsoft still invests heavily in Xbox hardware, it is also paying close attention to Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that gives players access to a library of over 100 titles for about $15 a month.

Cloud gaming, where games are hosted on remote servers and streamed to users over the Internet, is a big part of Microsoft’s strategy. The goal is to lure gamers into the Microsoft ecosystem through a range of different devices.

Currently, Xbox Cloud Gaming is only available on mobile devices and PCs. Now Microsoft plans to bring it to consoles. It also has a plan to launch cloud gaming on TVs through partnerships with manufacturers and its own dedicated streaming dongles.

Microsoft unveiled the release window for cloud gaming on consoles at the Gamescom video game trade show. The event normally takes place in Cologne, Germany, but has only gone online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Japanese rival Sony is also betting on services through its PlayStation Plus subscription offering, which gives gamers access to online multiplayer and selects free games every month.

But the company mainly promotes its blockbuster exclusive games in an effort to lure consumers. For example, hit franchises like The Last of Us and God of War can only be found on PlayStation platforms.

However, Microsoft has been spending more aggressively on exclusive content lately. The company last year acquired Bethesda, the iconic video game publisher behind franchises like The Elder Scrolls and Fallout, for $7.5 billion.

Video games boomed in 2020, as people turned to home entertainment during Covid lockdowns. It’s now a $180 billion industry, according to market researchers IDC. With several countries lifting their pandemic restrictions, it remains to be seen whether the momentum can continue.

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