In a pre-recorded media briefing, Xbox head Phil Spencer, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and others bragged about how well Game Pass and Azure are performing, and also dropped some news about the company’s cloud gaming and subscription strategies.
First, Xbox is working with global TV manufacturers to get Game Pass on smart televisions. Considering a Game Pass Ultimate subscription unlocks cloud capabilities, this feature will allow folks to play Xbox titles with just a controller, no console required. Additionally, Microsoft is officially building a video game streaming stick, as Spencer teased late last year.
“We’re also developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience,” CVP of gaming experiences and platforms Liz Hamren said. There’s no word on when to expect the smart TV app or streaming hardware to hit the market, but neither seems too far off.
Microsoft added that it’s also working on new subscription offerings for Game Pass, working to expand Xbox All Access (which offers a console and Game Pass for a monthly fee, rather than an upfront cost), and will add cloud gaming for Game Pass Ultimate members in Australia, Brazil, Mexico, and Japan this year.
Speaking about the company’s philosophy going forward, Spencer said, “We want everyone on Earth to be able to join in [on gaming], no matter what device you have access to, or where you are, and without spending a lot of money on every bit of individual entertainment.
“Achieving our mission is not going to be easy, and we have a long way to go, but we believe that only this company, only Microsoft, can bring to bear the global scale, the vast wellsprings of technical innovation, the financial resources, and the deep, decades-long legacy in video games required to truly bring the joy and community of gaming to everyone.”
It’s been clear for some time that Xbox, and Microsoft as a whole, now views Xbox consoles as a piece of its gaming business, as opposed to the extent of it – but this might be its most confident step forward in a new direction so far. Few specific dates have been given, but it seems this year should see the extension of Xbox as a name for how you play your games, not just on what device.