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Forbes review of Xbox cloud Gaming

Greggy

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Nov 7, 2020
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Shoot into the sky if old: https://www.forbes.com/sites/barryc...rce=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_term=Carrie

There will be an enormous amount of fanfare about the release of Windows 11 over the next couple of months, but the best Microsoft launch of 2021 won’t be the operating system. In fact, it’s something that makes your choice of operating system almost irrelevant.


For the past couple of weeks I’ve been beta testing Xbox Cloud Gaming. For those who haven’t heard of the service, it’s a free add-on to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, allowing you to stream a wide selection of Xbox titles to pretty much any device. You can play Xbox games on an Android smartphone, an iPad, your work PC, on a five-year-old Windows laptop - pretty much any device that has a browser and a decent internet connection.

And it’s brilliant. Genuinely the best thing I’ve reviewed this year. Here’s why.

Gaming without the hassle​

I’ve been using Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, which allows you to install a vast library of Xbox and PC games, since last Christmas, but I’ve only played four or five games in that time. That’s partly down to a lack of free time, but partly down to the hassle of installing games. Even with a blistering broadband connection, it can take 20 or 30 minutes for a game to download and install, and I might have to clear some disk space to make it happen at all. It’s a spontaneity buzzkill.

Xbox Cloud Gaming eradicates that. You don’t have to have the game installed on PC or console first, everything is run off the server. You choose the game you want to play and dive in. If it’s a game you have already played on the Xbox, saved game progress is retrieved from the cloud too, so you can pick up where you left off. You don’t have to start over or have separate cloud and local profiles. It’s all very smoothly integrated.

Grab a controller​

Currently, the Xbox Cloud Gaming library is limited to console titles, not PC games. You can’t play those with keyboard and mouse. Instead, you’re going to need a controller.

Any Bluetooth-enabled Xbox controller will work with smartphones, tablets or Windows PCs, so all you have to do is pair one of your controllers to your chosen device to start playing.

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If you’re on a touchscreen device, there are some titles that can also be played with touch controls. These take the form of a virtual controller, with buttons laid out on either side of the screen - you can’t dab the screen to aim a gun in Grand Theft Auto, say.


I wouldn’t want to rely on these virtual controls in any fast-moving action game - they’re just too imprecise and hitting button combos requires fantastic fingerwork. However, for certain types of strategy game or RPG, the onscreen controls are adequate if you don’t have a controller to hand.

Playing performance​

Wreckfest on Xbox Cloud Gaming

Racing games don't suffer from lag

BARRY COLLINS
Streaming services live or die by their performance. I signed up for Google Stadia right from the start and I was very impressed with the performance on offer there. Xbox Cloud Gaming is equally strong - with a couple of notable caveats.

First, you’re much better off on a wired broadband connection than Wi-Fi. The stability and speed you get from wired Ethernet will keep the stream rock solid, as long as Microsoft’s servers aren’t having a nap (that’s only happened once in my testing).

If you’re going to play on Wi-Fi, seek out the 5GHz band, as that delivers far more reliable performance than 2.4GHz, where lag and stutter are common in my tests. That could be problematic on some home routers which automatically assign devices and don’t give you the choice to split bands. It’s an even bigger problem on public or shared Wi-Fi, where you almost certainly won’t have the choice of bands and bandwidth is often constricted.

If you’re going to play on cellular data, you really need 5G or very good 4G signal to get reliable performance.

With a strong connection, the gaming performance is superb. There is a very slight input lag, as there is with all streaming services, but it’s by no means a killer. I’ve played first-person shooters, racing games, soccer sims and RPGs and the experience has been superb.

If your Wi-Fi connection should drop out, you have 15 minutes to get back into the game and pick up from where you left off. Obviously, that’s not much consolation if you’re in the middle of a gunfight in Red Dead Online, for instance, but it’s a welcome safety net for single-player games that haven’t been saved for a while.

The biggest difference you’ll notice, especially compared to an Xbox Series X played on a 4K TV is the resolution. Xbox Cloud Gaming tops out at Full HD (1080p) at 60 frames per second. I’d say the frame rate has dipped below that several times in my tests, leading to the occasional bit of screen smearing, but again it’s not terrible.

One other gripe is the occasional sound glitch when playing on my Mac. It seems to affect only certain games, and it’s more of an irritation than a showstopper, but we have to remember this a beta service. Glitches are to be expected.

Full stream ahead​

Xbox Cloud Gaming

There are 100+ titles available to stream

BARRY COLLINS
In short, Xbox Cloud Gaming can’t touch a new-gen console and a 4K TV for the very best gaming experience, but that’s missing the point of the service. It’s about the convenience of having a huge library of games available from almost any device, no matter where you are.

If my kids are hogging the family TV that my Xbox sits under, I can crack on with No Man’s Sky on my office laptop. If we’re going away for the weekend and I find myself with half an hour to spare, I can fire up a game on my iPad Pro. It’s not a replacement for console gaming - at least not yet - but it’s a brilliant add-on.

Seriously, if you’re an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, get amongst it.
 

GHG

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Reads more like an advert than a review. Where is the technical data on things like latency/input lag the author experienced other than "trust me bro"?

This is the closest thing we have to a proper review of the service so far:


28:57 for the xcloud review.
 

spons

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May 25, 2009
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Gaming on mobile 4G/5G is pointless where I live. You get 25 GB of data on unlimited subscriptions, then have to refresh every 5GB by sending a text message to your provider, meaning the entire connection craps out every once in a while. They advertise Xbox Cloud Gaming heavily on that provider. Marketing drivel.

I could barely get this shit to work even over 5GHz WiFi though. It's most likely my phone, but it lags like hell and has blocking artifacts all over the place. Managed to get Stadia working great on my Chromebook, maybe I should try XCloud again after the server upgrades they've put in place.
 
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DarkMage619

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Jun 19, 2004
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I chuckle at all reviews that fail to mention how data hungry game streaming is. Until data caps disappear, streaming games is not viable.
It is an OPTION. It's great to have multiple way to play games. If you can't support streaming there are other ways to play Xbox games.
 
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Warnen

Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead / Hey, there, there goes the Spider-Man
Sep 24, 2005
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Tried Destiny 2 on it and was unplayable. Not for me but if u can adjust to the lag good on ya. Nice value add to gamepass for sure.
 

Gamezone

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I love the service, but in my testing xCloud is the worst of all the streaming services when it comes to latency and streaming quality. On iOS is basically unplayable for me, while GeForce Now and Stadia is great. Don't know if anyone have the same experience as me?
 

lefty1117

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It depends on the game ... I think shooters and any sort of reaction time type of game is going to be quite a spotty experience. I tried MLB Show on it, and hitting is impossible. But other games like Minecraft Dungeons were a really nice experience. Overall I'm impressed with the service and I can see where 5 to 10 years down the road this could be the way most people are gaming - especially if companies like Samsung start offering built-in Gamepass integration. Imagine only needing a TV and a controller.
 

Gediminas

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Oh look, another Xbox ad by the famous Forbes “contributor” astroturfing extraordinaire.
 

Fredrik

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Reads more like an advert than a review. Where is the technical data on things like latency/input lag the author experienced other than "trust me bro"?

This is the closest thing we have to a proper review of the service so far:


28:57 for the xcloud review.
This was a good streaming service comparison. In line with my experience. However, they say they tested Xbox cloud on the old version, I haven’t checked if latency is any better now but it’s worth having in mind that it could be. Old version was horrible though, at least at my place.
 
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Captain Toad

I advertise for PlayStation. For free.
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Is there anything the microsoft xbox all in one entertainment system's gamepass can't do? It's such a quality service they are practically giving it away at these prices
Giving it away for $180 a year or $1260 over the course of the generation.

I'm not saying it isn't a good deal, but it ain't free or anywhere close to it.

If you are satisfied just playing Microsoft first-party games and some third-party games usually months or years after release, the cost isn't bad. But, if you're like me and want to play games from all publishers, developers and platforms, you'll still be buying plenty of new games and likely paying for many months of GamePass where you don't even touch the service.
 
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Synless

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Is there anything the microsoft xbox all in one entertainment system's gamepass can't do? It's such a quality service they are practically giving it away at these prices
Having bought a series x recently I am disappointed. Only a fraction of the games are backwards compatible (~25% of 360 games, even less Xbox OG games), barely any got resolution and other upgrades that get bragged about non stop.

The gamepass selection isn’t great by any stretch. It doesn’t even have all of Xbox’s first party games. People really need to shit the fuck up about it. Its ok at best, hopefully it will be better.

Also, Ive done steaming on several occasions on my network to my iPad and it’s not great either.

This isn’t a troll post, people must be easy to please these days.
 

kingfey

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Jul 6, 2021
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Glad this is still on beta. Because it honestly needs more baking.

I love gamepass, and xcloud makes it easy for me enjoy it.

But I would be wrong to say its perfect. Its not. It needs more iron on the oven. After its cooker perfectly, then release it.
 

GHG

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This was a good streaming service comparison. In line with my experience. However, they say they tested Xbox cloud on the old version, I haven’t checked if latency is any better now but it’s worth having in mind that it could be. Old version was horrible though, at least at my place.

Yeh Steve said he will revisit all of the services again in the future once Xcloud is out of beta and possibly do some more detailed tests.
 
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I've had a laggy experience since it was still called Xcloud, using this on Phones and tablets via the apps ( my tablets are amazon ones though, not up to modern premium specs, plus mobile data always causes it's own issues, so this could be a factor)

However since the browser streaming and SeriesX server blades were introduced, I've been using this service over wired connection to a laptop running the latest edge(basically chrome now) browser.

I've had a flawless experiemce.
I posted this a few weeks ago...

I played a level from Halo CE just last night it was fine. (i'm usually susceptible to input lag)

it might not be for the competiitive gamers, but for Like A Dragon etc,
it's great and as stated it also saves your electricity bill...
 
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Kilau

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Wow that’s some big news.

iOS 14.7 Breaks New Apple Watch iPhone Feature​

 

Bryank75

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Nobody cares, cloud gaming is shit for too many reasons to mention, trying to say that it was fine at the specific time he played on a wired connection is irrelevant.

Why did we go from PS3 / 360 to PS4 and Xbox One to PS5 and XSX????

PS3 and 360 offer more consistent and better gaming that a streaming service, we wouldn't have bothered to upgrade if we were happy enough with that standard.

Also..... Switch and soon Steam Deck are better gaming on the go platforms than using some unpredictable internet that could have a blackspot or get throttled at any time.

There is no place for this in the market, it is a waste of resources that could be used to make great games.

Sony in particular are idiots to be trying cloud gaming when hardware and electronics along with manufacturing are their core competencies.
 

M1chl

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It works well here, however it's probably due to low traffic, it has lower latency than local streaming which sucks ass. Not sure what MS is doing with it....
 

Banjo64

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I chuckle at all reviews that fail to mention how data hungry game streaming is. Until data caps disappear, streaming games is not viable.
Only an issue in America. Even the most bog-standard shitty broadband in the UK has unlimited data. Same for most other countries also.
 

Bernd Lauert

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Apr 15, 2018
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Wouldn't be a positive Xbox thread without the Sony warriors storming in and accusing the author of being a paid shill :messenger_beaming:

xCloud (and similar services) are the future. When it works well, you can't really ignore the convenience. Absolute game changer.
 

HeisenbergFX4

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Wouldn't be a positive Xbox thread without the Sony warriors storming in and accusing the author of being a paid shill :messenger_beaming:

xCloud (and similar services) are the future. When it works well, you can't really ignore the convenience. Absolute game changer.

I 100% have GPU and have used xcloud a few times its just not for me.

That said this is not a "review"
 

FireFistAce

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I think if game streaming was a viable option it would have been the most popular was for playing games by now. It’s not.
Edit: Maybe it’ll become popular with the new generation who don’t know any better than mobile phone games.
 
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