Microsoft says its 'xCloud' Xbox streaming service will work with thousands of games

But the company still hasn't said when it'll start testing the service publicly, or how much it'll cost.

Ian Sherr 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. 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

Some day, all you may need is one of these.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Last year, Microsoft announced Project xCloud, a gaming service that allows you to play video games streamed over the internet, kinda like how you watch Netflix streaming videos. Since then, it's announced features and capabilities in dribs and drabs.

On Friday, the company published a blog post discussing how the service uses hardware that's similar to existing Xbox One consoles . That means an existing library of more than 3,500 games will work on the service "without any changes or modifications required by the developer," Microsoft said

"In other words, developers will be able to dramatically scale their existing games across devices, with no additional development, no additional code base maintenance and no separate updates," the company said. "When a developer updates the Xbox One version of their title, those updates will also apply to all versions available on Project xCloud without any additional work."

The announcement is Microsoft's latest effort to entice people to its upcoming service. And there's good reason for Microsoft to be pitching it early.

A growing number of tech and game industry titans have either announced their intention to compete with xCloud, or are rumored to do so soon. That includes the internet giant Google, which announced its Stadia streaming service in March, after a high-profile partnership with Ubisoft, maker of the popular adventure series Assassin's Creed.

Game maker Electronic Arts announced its intentions to offer a game streaming service last year, and Amazon is rumored to be preparing its own entrant too.

For Microsoft's part, the company has already teamed up with another game industry giant, Sony , announcing an intention to work together on game streaming, among other things.

Microsoft also said more than 1,900 games are in development for the Xbox One, all of which could run on its xCloud service too. "Developers creating those games continue working normally -- building with the tools they have -- while we do the work to make their games accessible to the broadest set of players possible," the company said.

Watch this: New Xbox may stream games