Microsoft is planning to let Xbox console owners try games before they download them later this year. The new Xbox dashboard feature will allow console players to stream games through Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) service instantly. It’s part of a push to integrate xCloud more into Xbox consoles and into the Xbox app on Windows PCs.
“Later this year, we’ll add cloud gaming directly to the Xbox app on PCs, and integrated into our console experience, to light up all kinds of scenarios, like ‘try before you download,’” says Kareem Choudhry, head of cloud gaming at Microsoft.
Microsoft isn’t detailing all of the ways that xCloud will appear on Xbox consoles, but trying games before you download them certainly opens up possibilities for Xbox owners who want to know what a game is like before buying it.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X dashboard.
Either way, utilizing xCloud to let Xbox players quickly jump into games before they’re downloaded will be particularly useful on day one game launches. With games regularly exceeding 100GB, it often takes hours to download titles if you didn’t plan ahead and preload a game before its launch.
In a briefing with members of the press ahead of Microsoft’s Xbox E3 event on Sunday, the company’s head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, was keen to stress Microsoft’s commitment to Xbox Game Pass and cloud gaming.
“So right now we’re the only platform shipping games on console, PC, and cloud simultaneously,” says Spencer. “Others bring console games to PC years later, not only making people buy their hardware up front, but then charging them a second time to play on PC.”
Microsoft’s Xbox chief calls out Sony’s approach
Spencer is of course referring to Sony and its ongoing efforts to bring more PlayStation games to PC years after their launch. Microsoft obviously prefers its own approach to launching simultaneously across multiple platforms and being available on Xbox Game Pass on day one.
Speaking of Xbox Game Pass, Microsoft is also committing to some form of a timeline for exclusive first-party content for the service. “In terms of the overall lineup, we want to get to a point of releasing a new game every quarter … we know that a thriving entertainment service needs a consistent and exciting flow of new content,” explains Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios. “So our portfolio will continue to grow as our service grows.”
Microsoft isn’t providing an update on its Xbox Game Pass subscription growth yet. The service jumped to 18 million subscribers earlier this year, after growing steadily throughout 2020. Today’s announcements are part of some broader Xbox and xCloud news, including server upgrades to xCloud and Microsoft’s plans for an Xbox TV app and streaming sticks.