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Xbox cloud gaming, formerly xCloud: Games, pricing and more you need to know – CNET

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Lori Grunin/CNET

Microsoft’s has been testing its xCloud cloud-gaming platform, the technology which will let you play Xbox games streamed from remote servers on your phone, for about a year. Now we’re coming to the part where the free ride for testers ends and it’s time to pony up for the privilege via a subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. And as frequently happens with many a clever project name, “xCloud” has been swept into obscurity; Microsoft considers the technology an integral part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and now refers to it generically as “cloud gaming.” We’re going to keep calling it xCloud, though, at least until there’s a better shorthand for it.

How much does xCloud cost and when can I get it?

People who signed up for the preview can keep playing for free until Sept. 11; when it launches on Sept. 15, you’ll be able to get it as part of an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for $15/month (GBP11/month. Sorry, not available yet in Australia). If you’re already an XGP Ultimate subscriber, you’ll get it automatically.

Microsoft says it will be available in more ways eventually, but hasn’t said when, how or how much. I’m guessing a standalone subscription for streaming games you already own is at the top of the list.

Unlike competitors Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now (GFN), there’s no free tier for Xbox’s cloud gaming. Microsoft’s running a first-month-for-$1 (GBP1) offer which will likely continue, and a three-month free trial will be available through partners, such as Samsung.

Some people consider the fact that Xbox Game Pass comes as part of the streaming deal makes it a winner compared with Stadia, which is still ramping up on games and GeForce Now, which is a bring-your-own-game platform.

What devices can I play on and what are the requirements?

Any mobile device running Android 6 (Marshmallow) or better and has Bluetooth version 4 or later for a controller, plus a connection with a bandwidth of at least 10Gbps — on a 5GHz channel if you’re on Wi-Fi. You can download the app from the Google Play Store or the Samsung Galaxy Store.

Keep in mind, though, that as with all cloud gaming it’s about more than bandwidth. Microsoft doesn’t specify minimum latency or jitter for a playable experience, and those make a big difference.

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XGS doesn’t include streaming to PC like Stadia and GFN do, so it’s not a solution for playing on low-power potato PC or playing Windows games on a Mac. You can play XGP games on a PC via the still-in-beta Xbox Game Pass PC, but those are installed and played on your local system.

But what about iOS? Can I play on my iPhone?

Nope. There was a brief beta flirtation with it, but it’s all gone now.

Microsoft isn’t alone here. Apple doesn’t let you play via Google’s Stadia, Nvidia’s GeForce Now, Sony‘s PlayStation Now or any cloud-gaming platforms.

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The Razer Kishi is one of the controllers developed specifically for mobile gaming, and there’s a version for xCloud.
Lori Grunin/CNET

Do I need a controller?

Yes. Only a few games like Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice and Gears 5 support touch controls at the moment. But you can use any Xbox-compatible wireless controller with it, you don’t need to buy a specific model endorsed by Microsoft. No keyboard and mouse support, which is unsurprising given that it doesn’t run on any devices you’d use with a keyboard and mouse.

How do I buy games?

You don’t. You can stream many of the games in the Xbox Game Pass subscription library.

On the upside, that includes day one play of many new titles from Xbox Game Studios. If you choose to buy a game, your membership entitles you to discounts on titles in the catalog. They all support crossplay with PC and console versions, as well as any crossplay already supported on other platforms, like the Nintendo Switch or PS4.

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Lori Grunin/CNET

What games can I play?

Microsoft says “100+ games” will be available for play on mobile at launch. As of this writing, the beta has 104, many of them Xbox Game Studios titles. Microsoft only formally announced 30 of the launch games:

The list includes some titles that weren’t in the beta, though, such as The Outer Worlds, so hopefully there will be some surprises. But, as with all of these services, games move in and out of the catalog. Those are not pleasant surprises.

Can I chat? What about streaming gameplay?

You can chat in-game with the phone’s mic. To stream gameplay you’ll need a third-party app; there’s no in-game support. That’s too bad, because you could probably get far better quality if you could render and transmit the broadcast stream via the server rather than locally on your phone.

Cancellation policy

If you stop subscribing, you keep your progress and achievements if you buy the game from Microsoft, but obviously lose the ability to play on mobile.

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Charge Your Phone Wirelessly With 50% off a Multifunctional LED Lamp

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Best Tech DealsBest Tech DealsThe best tech deals from around the web, updated daily.

White Wireless Charge Lamp | $18 | Amazon | Clip coupon + code ABC88699
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When you’re ready to turn in for the night, you don’t want to forget to charge your phone— especially if your mobile device doubles as your alarm clock.

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You can snag the black version for $20 using the same code—no coupon though, sorry.

Don’t sleep on this deal! Who knows how long stock or the coupon code will last?

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Keep That Hotdish Hot With 65% Off a Luncia Casserole Carrier, Only $11 With Promo Code

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Luncia Double-Decker Dish Carrier | $11 | Amazon | Promo code SDDU9S7F

It has been a long time since the days we could safely have a potluck or other gatherings, but we have a fantastic deal perfect for once those times return. These double-decker Luncia dish carriers can be had for 65% off when you add promo code SDDU9S7F at checkout and clip the coupon on the site (it’s just below the price). These holders fit 9″x 13″ sized baking dishes.

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That means you can insulate and keep two dishes of food warm for only $11 instead of $30. What’s more, your Luncia carrier will arrive by Christmas if you order today as a Prime member.

Just add promo code SDDU9S7F and clip the 5% off coupon to bring the price down to $11 for the blue or the grey option.

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Grab this offer while it’s still around!


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Conquer Your Pup’s Dander and Fur With $700 Off a Cobalt or Charcoal Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum

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Best Home DealsBest Home DealsThe best home, kitchen, smart home, and automotive deals from around the web, updated daily.

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Cobalt) | $200 | Best Buy

Bobsweep PetHair Plus Robot Vacuum & Mop (Charcoal) | $200 | Best Buy

Allergies can be bad enough as the seasons change. Don’t let pet hair and dander add to that by vacuuming it up early and often. That chore is easier said than done— unless you have a robot vacuum to do the work for you. This lovely bright cobalt Bobsweep PetHair Plus robot vacuum and mop, only $200 today at Best Buy seems like an ideal option. That’s a whopping $700 off, by the way.

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You can get the same deal for the charcoal version of the robot vac, too. This model is not only specially made for picking up pet hair, it self docks and charges when it’s finished with the work.

It also comes with a mop attachment, so it can take care of those kitchen floors for you as well. Grab it while it’s still available for this fantastic price!

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