Microsoft CEO Pitches Xbox Cloud Gaming to Developers, Promising No Extra Coding

Ian Sherr Contributor and Former 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. As an editor at large 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.
Ian Sherr
2 min read
Five Xbox controllers, seen from above

The Xbox is one of the most popular game devices out there. But Microsoft is hoping to make it bigger.

Josh Goldman/CNET

What's happening

Microsoft is increasingly pitching its Xbox Cloud Gaming service as a new way to play games across devices.

Why it matters

The tech giant is growing its subscription model for video games, focusing on Xbox as a way to play games instead of merely a device plugged into your TV.

What's next

Microsoft's partnered with Fortnite maker Epic Games to offer that title for free, without subscription, through Xbox Cloud Gaming. Microsoft's CEO says more games are on the way.

Microsoft's CEO Satya Nadella on Tuesday pitched his company's Xbox Cloud Gaming technology as a new way to offer games to Xbox fans, as well as people using Apple's iPhone or iPad or devices powered by Google's Android. And, he said, it'll be trivial to code for as well.

Nadella discussed Xbox Cloud Gaming during the company's annual Build developer conference, saying the technology -- which allows people to play video games over the internet, similar to how they stream movies and TV shows from Netflix or Disney -- is designed to work with games that are coded to run on Windows computers or Xbox video game consoles.

"One of the coolest things is that as a game developer, there's no need to change your code," Nadella said, noting the reduced development time as another reason developers might want to use his service. "As a game developer, you can publish to the Xbox store and your game can be accessible on every device."

Microsoft has always leaned on its size as part of the reason game and app developers should focus on writing code for its devices. After all, Microsoft Windows runs on nearly 75% of all desktop and laptop computers, according to data from StatCounter, and VGChartz tallies indicate that its Xbox is one of the most popular video game consoles, behind Sony's PlayStation and Nintendo's Switch.

But in the past couple of years, Microsoft has attempted to aim higher than its typical competition to sell video game consoles. It's turned to game streaming technology as well as its $15 per month Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription to attract players who otherwise may not have purchased an Xbox, but still want to play video games. Nadella said Xbox now counts 10 million people who've streamed games through its cloud gaming technology in 26 countries.

The company has also partnered with Epic Games, maker of the hit battle game Fortnite, offering the title free through Xbox Cloud Gaming on PCs, Chromebooks and mobile devices. The company's even marketed its Xbox Cloud Gaming as a workaround for iPhone and iPad owners, after Apple banned Fortnite from its App Store amid an ongoing legal dispute with Epic.

Nadella didn't spend long discussing his company's Xbox Cloud Gaming efforts, other than to say the company's hoping to work with more developers to offer free games through its service soon.

"You can break free of device restrictions that too often get in your way," he said.

Microsoft will likely discuss its gaming efforts more next month, during its Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase on June 12.