Ahead of E3, Microsoft aims to bring Xbox to billions of players with or without consoles
The tech giant is working on TV software and a streaming device to access Xbox games anywhere with an internet connection.
Ian SherrFormer Editor at Large / News
Ian Sherr (he/him/his) grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, so he's always had a connection to the tech world. At CNET, he wrote about Apple, Microsoft, VR, video games and internet troubles. Aside from writing, he tinkers with tech at home, is a longtime fencer -- the kind with swords -- and began woodworking during the pandemic.
But in the future, Microsoft thinks you'll want to play in even more places. Like a hotel room TV. Or a small streaming set-top box you can plug into a TV or monitor at a friend's house.
"Of course, there's still a place for consoles and PCs. And frankly, there always will be," Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer, said during a briefing for journalists this week ahead of his presentation during the E3 video game conference this Sunday. "But through the cloud, we will be able to deliver robust gaming experiences to anyone connected to the internet, even on the least powerful, least expensive devices -- even on devices people already own."
Now, Microsoft is planning to bring its Xbox software and games to those types of devices. Without providing further details, Microsoft said it's working with internet-connected TV makers "to embed the Xbox experience" into them, with no extra hardware required other than a controller. Microsoft also said it's building its own "streaming devices" for
and monitors. At the same time, Microsoft is investing further in its Xbox Games Pass subscription service, offering people ways to buy its Xbox on monthly instalment plans too.
"As a company, Microsoft's all in on gaming. Gaming has been key to Microsoft from our earliest days," said Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO. "We are truly redefining how games are distributed, played and shared."
The company's also struck deals with companies including FIFA football game maker Electronic Arts and
developer Epic Games to bring their hits to its subscription service.
"We're trying to reach the 3 billion people on the planet who in some sort of way play an electronic game," Spencer said. But, he added, Microsoft realized that only 250 million people are actually interested in buying consoles. "We need to meet players where they are, which is mobile, and on other screens and devices," he said.