Microsoft Corp. is partnering with Samsung Electronics Co. to allow gaming fans to play Xbox games directly on smart TVs without a console. Starting June 30, hundreds of cloud-enabled games attached to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which costs $14.99 a month without promotional pricing, will be available through Samsung’s Gaming Hub, similar to using any other streaming app on a TV.
Later this year, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will be able to play some of the games they already own using the cloud and without a download, even if the games aren’t currently in the Game Pass library. That expands the cloud-gaming features, which let users play on various devices and are presently only available for Game Pass titles.
“We're building a platform that can reach billions of players, whether it's on console, whether it's on PC, whether it's through Xbox cloud streaming,” said Phil Spencer, chief executive officer of Microsoft Gaming. “That's just fundamental to where Xbox is going.”
The agreement, announced Thursday, is part of an effort by Microsoft’s Xbox business to keep expanding beyond the console and to get more gamers to pony up for Game Pass, a monthly service that helps smooth revenue fluctuations in an industry driven by big-hit titles. Game Pass has 25 million subscribers, Microsoft said in January. Xbox hasn’t updated subscriber numbers since then and last month Kotaku reported some gaming writers and tastemakers said they may drop Game Pass at least temporarily as they wait for big game releases that have been delayed until next year, like two highly anticipated upcoming games from Xbox’s Bethesda Softworks studio.
The company is getting more subscribers to play on PCs — that number has tripled since last November, Xbox said.
Last month, Xbox said the other part of its plan to bring cloud gaming to TVs, a streaming stick device, needs more time and a new strategy. The company told Windows Central it had “made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration” of the device and “refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future.”
Microsoft will also start a new program within the next year that lets independent game developers promote upcoming titles by sharing demos of their work to Game Pass members. With the program, called Project Moorcroft, participating developers will be able to track how their demos perform and Microsoft plans to compensate them for their content.
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