There is a way to play Xbox game titles without purchasing an Xbox gaming console. It was in November 2019 when Microsoft Gaming launched Xbox Cloud Gaming for beta testing. This was followed up with an official public launch in September 2020 for the subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This service competes with other cloud gaming service providers such as Apple Arcade, GeForce Now from Nvidia, Amazon Luna, and the on-demand gaming service available on the PlayStation 5. This article reviews the pros and cons or the advantages and disadvantages of Xbox Cloud Gaming.
Pros of Xbox Cloud Gaming: Advantages and Notable Features
The viability of cloud-based gaming has not taken a considerable hold in the gaming market but Microsoft has been banking on its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform to appeal to more people who do not want to purchase an Xbox gaming console. The company has utilized its cloud services platform Azure to power this cloud gaming service. The following are the advantages of Xbox Cloud Gaming and its notable features and selling points:
1. Xbox Gaming Without the Xbox Console
One of the obvious advantages of Xbox Cloud Gaming is that it allows interested users to play various game titles available on the Xbox platform without purchasing and owning an actual Xbox gaming console. Accessing this service requires an active subscription to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate which costs USD 16.99 per month.
2. Available on Different Device Platforms
Furthermore, upon subscription, subscribers can play games using mainstream device platforms such as Windows, macOS, ChromeOS, iOS and iPadOS, Android, Steam Deck, Meta Quest, and selected Samsung Smart TV and Smart Monitor models. It is also available on Xbox One and the Xbox Series S and Xbox Series X consoles.
3. Fast and Reliable Cloud Gaming Service
Another advantage of Xbox Cloud Gaming is that it is accessible and playable on average-level internet connections. A series of tests had shown that games can be streamed and played over an LTE connection with an average of 25 Mbps download speed without lags. This comes from the powerful servers of the Azure cloud infrastructure.
4. Support For Various Game Controllers
The service is optimized for touchscreen controls on smartphones and tablets or game controllers over Bluetooth. There is native support for official Xbox controllers and even Sony DualShock and DualSense wireless controllers for the PlayStation. It also supports controllers from brands such as Razer, SteelSeries, Backbone, and PowerA.
5. Impressive Selection of Video Games
A decent library of game titles backs up the Xbox Cloud Gaming. These include titles from EA such as Battlefield and Mass Effect, popular first-person shooters like Fortnite, Battlefield, and Call of Duty: Warzone, and other mainstream titles such as Hitman World of Assassination, the entire Doom series, and various Halo series.
Cons of Xbox Cloud Gaming: Disadvantages and Key Limitations
It is important to underscore the fact that cloud gaming is dependent on consistent access to an internet connection. A user would not be able to play games without internet. This is one of the main drawbacks of cloud gaming when compared to traditional console-based gaming and PC gaming on platforms such as Windows and macOS. There is also a variation of features among providers. Below are the disadvantages of Xbox Cloud Gaming:
1. Requires Stable Internet Connection
The service is fast and is playable even when accessed over an average-level internet speed. The downside is that the internet connection needs to be stable. A game runs the risk of losing game progress when connected to an intermittent internet service. The connection speed might suffer from bottlenecks due to network overload.
2. Limited Geographical Availability
Another disadvantage of Xbox Cloud Gaming is that it is not available in all regions of the world due to the limitations of Azure or the absence of a feasible gaming market. It is unsupported in several Eastern European countries such as Albania, Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, and Ukraine, and in several countries in the Middle East and Africa.
3. Inferior Video and Graphics Quality
It is also important to underscore the fact that the video and graphics quality of game titles on this cloud gaming platform is incomparable to an actual Xbox gaming console. This comes from the fact that Microsoft compresses the video and graphics data to maximize the capabilities of its cloud servers and optimize network performance.
4. Ever-Changing Video Game Library
The size of the entire gaming library might be decent but it is also worth mentioning that another disadvantage of Xbox Cloud Gaming is that not all game titles are permanent or would remain accessible for subscribers. Game titles are often added and removed. This dynamic nature of the library is a drawback for collection-oriented gamers.
5. More Specific Features Limitations
Gamers cannot customize their games according to their liking. It is also impossible to access configuration files and make certain game file modifications. The service also does not support local multiplayer and it currently supports one player per one account at a time. Not all game controllers from other brands are optimized.
Verdict: Advantages and Disadvantages of Xbox Cloud Gaming
The advantages of Xbox Cloud Gaming translate to enabling interested users to access and play Xbox games without purchasing an Xbox gaming console and just by using an available device with a decent internet connection speed. This is ideal for casual gamers and those who want to explore the gaming library available on the cloud. However, considering its disadvantages, this service might not appeal to more serious gamers who are into playing and collecting video game titles and those who prefer other platforms such as PC, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch. The entire library of game titles is decent but it is still limited compared to the actual Xbox gaming library and the libraries of other platforms.