The growth and evolution of Xbox Cloud Gaming

Our mission at Xbox is to bring joy and community to gaming by putting players at the center of everything we do. We want to give all people around the world the opportunity to play the games they want, with the right people and on the devices they already have. We call it Xbox everywhere.

As we strive to make games more accessible to even more people and reach three billion players worldwide, we have invested heavily in the cloud, both for players to play the way they want and for creators to attract new, wider audiences and build, launch and manage your games using best-in-class cloud-based tools and services. We built this in partnership with Azure, reaching more people than any other cloud provider.

Since launching in 2020, we have seen huge growth in: Currently, over 10 million people worldwide are streaming games through Xbox Cloud Gaming (beta) as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate..

Today, we’ve reached another key milestone: we’re expanding our business model to bring the cloud to even more people, moving beyond Xbox Game Pass to deliver our first free game. In partnership with Epic, fortnite available through Xbox Cloud Gaming so fans can play on iOS device, Android phone or tablet or Windows PC via web browser. This is just the beginning for us – we are going to learn, implement feedback and over time we will try to provide players with even more free games through the cloud.

Our continued growth and ability to embrace new business models has been driven by how we have evolved the cloud to be part of the Xbox ecosystem. We started with Android, only running Xbox One S servers in our data centers. Since then, cloud gaming has been upgraded to Xbox Series X custom servers and launched on Windows PCs, Apple phones and tablets, Xbox One and Xbox Series S|X, and we even started rolling it out on the steam deck. We’ve also seen the community download it on some non-traditional devices via a browser, although they seem to have had a lot of fun. Eventually, players in all 26 countries played on over 6,000 device types, from various Android phone models to a range of PCs and iPhones of all generations..

We have also included cloud gaming in other countries such as Mexico, Japan, Australia, and Brazil. The gaming community has been phenomenal in all of these new countries, and Brazil in particular has exceeded our expectations. The acceptance was so overwhelming in the first couple of weeks that fan demand overwhelmed our server capacity and we had to move quickly to roll out more hardware to keep up with demand. The support we’re seeing in new countries, combined with the increase in games available on more devices, has led to encouraging results. In the coming months, you should expect cloud gaming to become available in even more places – we can’t wait to share them.

None of this would be possible without quality content. We are in a unique position in that we not only have our own cloud that can deliver games, but we also have a rich history in gaming, including extensive studios making games for a variety of genres. Since launching less than two years ago, we’ve worked with over 125 developers to enable over 350 games from the Xbox Game Pass cloud catalog. We also saw the power of the cloud as a discovery mechanism to reduce the time it takes to just try out and play new games. On average, Xbox Game Pass players who use the cloud find and play almost twice as many games as Xbox Game Pass members who don’t play in the cloud..

The way games are delivered to devices has also changed: when we started, all of our games followed a lift-and-shift model to make it as easy as possible for studios to create games that can be played in the cloud. Without the need to make any changes to the code, the games will simply work on our cloud platform. It was a great way to create a catalog of hundreds of games, and many games play beautifully this way.

We have evolved over time and also made it possible to support cloud computing in games; simple changes from the developer can improve the whole experience. They can add touch controls—either a simple overlay of fully customizable controls like in Hades—or font size optimizations based on the device being streamed to. We launched cloud gaming with one cloud game: Minecraft Dungeons with customizable touch controls. Currently, there are more than 150 touch-controlled cloud games.and we found that touch-based games were more engaging. On average, we’re seeing a 2x increase in games with touch, and 20% of Xbox Cloud Gaming users use touch exclusively..

Cloud gaming also extends to more intense gaming, allowing Gen-9 games to be played on Xbox One via the cloud. A great example of this is Microsoft Flight Simulator. It became available in the cloud on March 1 and quickly became the most popular cloud game on phones, tablets, PCs and consoles in March. Players who otherwise wouldn’t have access to Gen-9 games now have the ability to play on their devices.

I will never forget the first time I played a console game on my cloud-powered mobile phone; it was just a magical experience. It was many years ago when we traveled the cloud for a while with a wonderful and engaged community of players and incredible content partners. Together we believe we have a bright future ahead of us for all players and creators.

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