How to use xCloud to play Xbox games from your phone

 theverge.com  09/15/2020 13:55:12  2  Cameron Faulkner

If you subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, you likely now have access to Microsofts xCloud game streaming abilities, and can immediately jump into one of more than 150 games  today is the official launch of Microsofts xCloud service. Many more games will come later this quarter, when the EA Play catalog of games gets added.

Lets run through what you need to try it yourself today.

Its possible that you might already have all the necessary components to make it happen  on Android, anyhow. But if youre looking to try out xCloud on an iPhone, the process unfortunately begins and ends right here. Apple hasnt made an exception for xCloud or any other game streaming service to exist on its App Store, and it doesnt seem like it will budge.

As my colleague Tom Warren put it, Apple wants companies like Microsoft to individually submit their games as separate apps using its streaming tech, and Microsoft doesnt want to do that, calling Apples requirements a bad experience for customers.

But assuming youve got an Android device, heres what youll need to try it yourself:

  • A subscription to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the Microsoft service that costs $14.99 per month and also provides a catalog of Game Pass games on both console and PC, as well as Xbox Live Gold for online multiplayer, and discounts on games.
  • An Android phone or tablet thats running Android 6.0 Marshmallow or later, and has Bluetooth 4.0 or greater. Youll need such a device to download the app from the Google Play Store. As mentioned before, Apple is currently taking a hard stance in not allowing any cloud game streaming services, including xCloud, on its App Store for iPhones.
  • A compatible controller to connect to your phone or tablet over Bluetooth, or USB. In regards to connecting via USB, you should be able to use a micro USB (which the DualShock 4 and Xbox wireless controllers use) to USB-A cable with an OTG adapter (micro USB, USB-C) to fit your phones charge port. The Bluetooth-ready Xbox One wireless controller will work just fine if you add a phone clip, but note that the older one with glossy plastic near the shoulder buttons doesnt support Bluetooth.

(You can also try one of the fleet of xCloud-ready controllers that were recently announced, including PowerAs MOGA XP5-X, the 8Bitdo SN30 Pro for Xbox, or Razers Kishi for Xbox, each of which include a clip or other spot for your phone. The Xbox Elite Gen 2 controller will also work, as will the forthcoming Xbox Series S / X controllers that have found their way into the hands of some lucky buyers.

Microsoft is working to adapt on-screen touch controls for some of its games when a controller isnt available, though that feature is limited at launch. Minecraft Dungeons supports it right now, and more games, like Hellblade: Senuas Sacrifice and Gears 5, will get it in the future.

  • Lastly, a fast Wi-Fi or cellular connection. Microsoft suggests connecting to your router via a 5GHz Wi-Fi signal, but whether youre at home or connected to an LTE or 5G tower, you should have download speeds of at least 10Mbps for a good experience. You can check your download speeds at speedtest.net.

Now that you have everything necessary to try out xCloud, heres how to do it in the Xbox Game Pass app.

Download the Xbox Game Pass app

Before xCloud officially released, the feature was limited to the beta version of the Game Pass app on Android. Thats no longer the case, so if you search Game Pass on your phone in the Play Store, make sure to down the stable non-beta version with a green background, not the one with a white background as its icon (thats the beta).

Make sure to download the app with the green background.

Connect a controller via Bluetooth or USB

As mentioned before, there are several compatible controllers that you can connect to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth. If youre using Microsofts official Xbox controller with Bluetooth support or Sonys DualShock 4, heres how to connect them. Alternatively, you can connect a controller via USB. If you dont have one connected before launching a game, the app will warn you to do so.

Photo by Nick Statt / The Verge

Its also a good idea to get a clip to mount your phone to your controller for easy viewing. PowerA offers a $14.99 model that connects to Microsofts Xbox wireless controller with Bluetooth support. Some controllers also include one with purchase.

Boot the app and launch a game

Once youre signed in with your Microsoft account, youll should tap or select the cloud option beneath the top section of the app where it shows a highlighted game.

xCloud

After thats selected, every game you see below should be eligible for you to play right from your phone or tablet. Go ahead and click one, then hit Play on the next screen as seen below. Itll take a few moments for your device to boot into the game, but once it does, your save data will automatically sync with your progress on your Xbox One and PC, if youve already started the game there.

Microsoft xCloud

Update, September 15th: Added more context now that xCloud has officially launched today.

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