The Growth and Evolution of Xbox Cloud Gaming

Our mission at Xbox is to bring fun and community to gaming by putting players at the center of everything we do. We want to empower everyone around the world to play the games they want, with the people they want, on the devices they already have. We call this Xbox Everywhere.

As we want to make gaming more accessible to even more people and reach the three billion players worldwide, we’ve invested heavily in the cloud – both for players so they can play the way they want, and for creators so they can create new, bigger audiences and their build, run and manage games using the best cloud tools and services. We built this in partnership with Azure, which reaches more people than any other cloud provider.

Since its launch in 2020, we have seen tremendous growth: So far, more than 10 million people around the world have streamed games through Xbox Cloud Gaming (Beta) as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate

Today we hit another important milestone as we expand our business model to bring the cloud to even more people in even more ways, moving beyond Xbox Game Pass and offering our first free-to-play title. In collaboration with Epic, Fortnite is available through Xbox Cloud Gaming so fans can play on an iOS device, Android phone or tablet, or Windows PC via a web browser. This is just the beginning for us – we’re going to learn, implement feedback, and over time try to bring even more free-to-play titles to players via the cloud.

Our continued growth and ability to enable new business models is due to how we’ve evolved the cloud to make it part of the Xbox ecosystem. We started on Android and only run on Xbox One S servers in our data centers. Since then, Cloud Gaming has been upgraded to Custom Xbox Series X servers and launched on Windows PCs, Apple phones and tablets, Xbox One and Xbox Series S|X, and we’ve even started rolling it out on the steam deck. We’ve also seen the community load it through the browser on some unconventional devices, though it seems like they were having a lot of fun. In total, players about everything 26 countries have played on over 6000 types of devices, from different types of Android phones to a range of PCs and iPhones of all generations

We’ve also enabled Cloud Gaming in more places like Mexico, Japan, Australia and Brazil. The gaming community has been phenomenal in all these new countries, and Brazil in particular has exceeded our expectations. Adoption was so overwhelming in the first few weeks that fan demand exceeded our server capacity to the point that we had to move quickly to deploy more hardware to meet demand. The support we’ve seen going to new countries, coupled with making more games available on more devices, has led to encouraging results. In the coming months, expect cloud gaming to become available in even more places – we can’t wait to share more.

None of this would be possible without great content. We are in a unique position because not only do we have a first-party cloud that can deliver the games, but also a rich history in gaming, including extensive studios that create titles in a variety of genres. Since launching less than two years ago, we’ve collaborated with more than 125 developers to create more than 350 games using the Xbox Game Pass catalog for the cloud. We’ve also seen the power of the cloud as a discovery mechanism by reducing the time to just try and play new games. Xbox Game Pass players who use the cloud discover and play on average nearly twice as many games as Xbox Game Pass members who do not play in the cloud

The way games are delivered on devices has also evolved: when we started, all our games followed a lift-and-shift model to make it as easy as possible for studios to play games in the cloud. Without the need to make code changes, games would just run on our cloud platform. This was a great way to build up the catalog of hundreds of games, and a lot of games play great this way.

We have evolved over time and also allow games to be Cloud Aware; simple developer changes can improve the whole experience. They can choose to add touch controls – either a basic overlay for fully custom controls like you see with Hades – or optimize the font size based on the device being streamed to. We launched cloud gaming with one cloud-aware game: Minecraft Dungeons with custom touch controls. There are now over 150 cloud-aware games with touchand we found that games with touch controls lead to more engagement. On average, we see 2x more play for games with touch controls, and 20% of Xbox Cloud Gaming users use only touch

Cloud-conscious titles also extend to more intensive games, making it possible to play Gen-9 titles on Xbox One via the cloud. A good example of this is Microsoft Flight Simulator. It became available through the cloud on March 1, and quickly became the most played cloud game on phones, tablets, PCs and consoles for the month of March† Players who otherwise wouldn’t have access to Gen-9 titles now have the option to jump in on the devices they own.

I will never forget the first time I played a console game on my mobile phone, powered by the cloud; it was just a magical experience. That was many years ago as we have been on this cloud journey for a while now together with a great and engaged community of players and incredible content partners. Together we believe that we have a bright future for all players and creators.