Xbox Cloud Gaming: How to Play Your Favorite Xbox Games on iPhone, iPad, and Laptop

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Cloud gaming may be the future, but the future is not here yet. It’s a step up, however, now that many Xbox Game Pass games can be streamed to iPhone, iPad, and Windows PC. After months of limited beta testing, Xbox cloud gaming arrived earlier this summer to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, however still in beta.

After the initial publication of this practical exercise, Microsoft also announced that Xbox Cloud Games will be coming to Xbox Series X and Series S consoles, as well as the next-gen Xbox One.. Why would you want to stream an Xbox game to your Xbox? First, Xbox One owners can play new Xbox Series X games | S without getting a hard-to-find new console, and cloud streaming also means you don’t need to set aside 40GB or more for each game to download and store locally.

Cloud gaming, or game streaming, is similar to watching a Netflix movie. The content lives on a remote server somewhere and is streamed to your screen in real time. Making cloud gaming harder to achieve than video streaming is the added complication of sending controller input (pressing buttons and moving analog sticks) to the cloud, with game actions taking place on that server remote, then send the resulting video output back to your display.

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But just as few people still download full movies or hoard DVDs, game discs will eventually die out (they’re already on their way out) and even full game downloads could be replaced by streaming. With many games easily exceeding 50GB, this can save a lot of download time and storage space.

Here’s how to get in on the cloud gaming action and what you need to know about it.

Read more: Xbox Series X review

You need a premium subscription

Move towards xbox.com/play, and sign in to your Microsoft account if you’re not already signed in. Xbox Cloud Gaming is supported in Chrome and Edge on Windows devices, or Safari on iPhone and iPad. Game Pass Ultimate is the $15 per month subscription that includes a range of over 100 all-you-can-eat games on Xbox and PC.

Some, but not all, Game Pass games are included

This only affects a subset of a subset of your Xbox library. The games I purchased and downloaded individually, from Cyberpunk 2077 at Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, are not included, only games from the Game Pass library. This library adds and removes games regularly and not all Game Pass games are there, but a good number are. I’ve seen Outriders, Gears 5, and Doom Eternal, as well as smaller indie games like Subnautica and Outer Wilds.

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On-screen controls for iPad.

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Some games include on-screen controls for easier iPad and iPhone use

It’s a pretty clever idea. Some games include generic gamepad controls overlaid directly on the screen. Others add game-specific buttons. I’ve found this works best for games where split-second timing isn’t essential.

Over the years, on-screen game controls on phones and tablets have become quite sophisticated. It feels a lot more basic and frankly not that responsive. But it is an idea full of promise. For example, playing Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire on my iPad with on-screen controls is exactly the kind of deep RPG experience on iPad that I’ve always wanted.

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Macs aren’t officially invited, but they could still sneak in

Microsoft describes Xbox Cloud Gaming as “for Windows 10 PCs and Apple phones and tablets.” Notice what’s missing there? MacBook and Mac desktop computers. Naturally, I tried it on a Mac. Chrome could never launch a game because it refused to recognize my controller. I had better luck with Safari, but it was still inconsistent. Performance was also choppier than on any of the officially supported platforms.

It’s not yet time to throw away your console

While it’s great to see more games available in more places, testing the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta also reminded me that we’re not quite there on game streaming yet. On iPads and PCs, performance was often choppy and sluggish, visuals broke down into digital noise, and my controller inputs felt cluttered with too much lag. Even with a strong internet connection, the experience varied wildly. The most disappointing thing is the loading screen waiting time in games. It was often slower to load game levels than to play locally.

In other words, the same problems you may have with GeForce Now, Stadia or other cloud gaming services. At best, you can forget you’re not playing on a PC or game console. But the consistency of experience isn’t there yet, especially for shake-based games like shooters. first person or competitive esports games.

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