If you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you likely now have access to Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming abilities, and can immediately jump into one of more than 150 games — today is the official launch of Microsoft’s xCloud service. Many more games will come later this quarter, when the EA Play catalog of games gets added.
Let’s run through what you need to try it yourself today.
It’s possible that you might already have all the necessary components to make it happen — on Android, anyhow. But if you’re looking to try out xCloud on an iPhone, the process unfortunately begins and ends right here. Apple hasn’t made an exception for xCloud or any other game streaming service to exist on its App Store, and it doesn’t seem like it will budge.
As my colleague Tom Warren put it, “Apple wants companies like Microsoft to individually submit their games as separate apps using its streaming tech,” and Microsoft doesn’t want to do that, calling Apple’s requirements “a bad experience for customers”.
But assuming you’ve got an Android device, here’s what you’ll need to try it yourself:
- A subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the Microsoft service that costs $14.99 per month and also provides a catalog of Game Pass games on both console and PC, as well as Xbox Live Gold for online multiplayer, and discounts on games.
- An Android phone or tablet that’s running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, and has Bluetooth 4.0 or greater. You’ll need such a device to download the app from the Google Play Store. As mentioned before, Apple is currently taking a hard stance in not allowing any cloud game streaming services, including xCloud, on its App Store for iPhones.
- A compatible controller to connect to your phone or tablet over Bluetooth, or USB. In regards to connecting via USB, you should be able to use a micro USB (which the DualShock 4 and Xbox wireless controllers use) to USB-A cable with an OTG adapter (micro USB, USB-C) to fit your phone’s charge port. The Bluetooth-ready Xbox One wireless controller will work just fine if you add a phone clip, but note that the older one with glossy plastic near the shoulder buttons doesn’t support Bluetooth.
(You can also try one of the fleet of xCloud-ready controllers that were recently announced, including PowerA’s MOGA XP5-X, the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox, or Razer’s Kishi for Xbox, each of which include a clip or other spot for your phone. The Xbox Elite Gen 2 controller will also work, as will the forthcoming Xbox Series S / X controllers that have found their way into the hands of some lucky buyers.
Microsoft is working to adapt on-screen touch controls for some of its games when a controller isn’t available, though that feature is limited at launch. Minecraft Dungeons supports it right now, and more games, like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Gears 5, will get it in the future.
- Lastly, a fast Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Microsoft suggests connecting to your router via a 5GHz Wi-Fi signal, but whether you’re at home or connected to an LTE or 5G tower, you should have download speeds of at least 10Mbps for a good experience. You can check your download speeds at speedtest.net.
Now that you have everything necessary to try out xCloud, here’s how to do it in the Xbox Game Pass app.
Download the Xbox Game Pass app
Before xCloud officially released, the feature was limited to the beta version of the Game Pass app on Android. That’s no longer the case, so if you search “Game Pass” on your phone in the Play Store, make sure to down the stable non-beta version with a green background, not the one with a white background as its icon (that’s the beta).
Connect a controller via Bluetooth or USB
As mentioned before, there are several compatible controllers that you can connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. If you’re using Microsoft’s official Xbox controller with Bluetooth support or Sony’s DualShock 4, here’s how to connect them. Alternatively, you can connect a controller via USB. If you don’t have one connected before launching a game, the app will warn you to do so.
It’s also a good idea to get a clip to mount your phone to your controller for easy viewing. PowerA offers a $14.99 model that connects to Microsoft’s Xbox wireless controller with Bluetooth support. Some controllers also include one with purchase.
Boot the app and launch a game
Once you’re signed in with your Microsoft account, you’ll should tap or select the “cloud” option beneath the top section of the app where it shows a highlighted game.
After that’s selected, every game you see below should be eligible for you to play right from your phone or tablet. Go ahead and click one, then hit “Play” on the next screen as seen below. It’ll take a few moments for your device to boot into the game, but once it does, your save data will automatically sync with your progress on your Xbox One and PC, if you’ve already started the game there.
Update, September 15th: Added more context now that xCloud has officially launched today.