Xbox Cloud Gaming One Year Later: Are we ready for it?

Last year, I was lucky enough to check out Microsoft’s Project xCloud. It was rough around the edges and offered a rather lukewarm experience, but I definitely saw the potential for something great in the future, especially when the infrastructure improves over time. Fast forward one year later, Project xCloud is now known as Xbox Cloud Gaming, an added bonus to the mighty Xbox Game Pass, which is already making waves in the industry. The service can only get better, and Microsoft is taking steps to ensure that gaming is more accessible, whether you own a next-gen console or not.

Adding More Platforms

Game Pass, at the moment, is available for Xbox Consoles, PC, and Cloud. By far, the best way to experience the service will be on your Xbox consoles, as it offers the most up to date selection of games, including triple A and first party releases on Day One. Simply switch on your Xbox, select a game, download it to your console, and play.

PC works the same way, but when you consider how it can get redundant in the sense that it becomes another place to play games on top of Steam, Epic Games, and more, the appeal tapers off a bit.

Then there’s the Xbox Cloud Gaming, which allows you to play a rapidly increasing number of games on your smartphone or tablet, all without even owning a console or a PC. All you need is a compatible controller or peripheral, your mobile device, and you’re good to go.

Microsoft, not content with the notion of “on the go”, ups the ante by adding Touch Controls to select games, making the service even less dependent on additional hardware like controllers.

Should’ve waited for the Xbox version… now I don’t know what to do with my Switch

For most console gamers, the thought of playing certain games without a dedicated controller is uncharted territory. Touch Controls are not for everyone, but that’s the beauty of choice, and if you’re telling me that I can play Octopath Traveler without anything except for the smartphone I have on my pocket, then I’ll most definitely take you up on that offer.

It actually makes Xbox Cloud Gaming a lot more versatile than other services out there, and if this function becomes more ubiquitous, it would definitely break down more barriers to gaming.

WiFi or Data?

Let’s address the elephant in the room – do you have a good enough connection for Cloud Gaming? At this point in time, Xbox Cloud Gaming still sounds too good to be true for most people, and playing a high-end triple A game without a $500 console will surely raise a few eyebrows from gamers out there.

A Fiber connection isn’t exactly cheap, and while it is more widespread now compared to maybe 5 years ago, market penetration is still not in a state that allows a lot of players to enjoy cloud gaming. Xbox Cloud Gaming recommends at least a 10Mbps download speed on a 5Ghz network connection, and a quick check at sites like Speedcheck will tell you if you’re ready or not.

Some households will have an internet connection that is shared with the rest of the family, and twice the number of devices at any given point in time. If you’re playing story-driven games and simple 2D or even 2.5D games such as Octopath Traveler, it will not be too much of a big deal, but can you imagine playing an FPS shooter while competing for bandwidth against a K-Drama on Netflix and Cocomelon on Youtube?


Your other choice is this magical thing called 5G, but most countries don’t even have enough 5G sites rolled out yet, and even less devices that can actually take advantage of it.

Nevertheless, Xbox Cloud Gaming has improved so much since last year, and while the service is still just available in limited territories, it is a great thing when it works. Personally, it’s not something I’d go out of my way to use, so until they’ve fine tuned some more issues, I’m sticking to the traditional way of doing things – aka owning an Xbox Series X and a PC.

Phil Spencer’s Future

If I would compare the service from a year before to Xbox Cloud Gaming today, I’d say there’s a massive improvement besides the obvious cosmetic upgrades. Back in 2020, I couldn’t even get anywhere with two bars of Wi-Fi, let alone finish up a full gaming session. I’m in Canada, and I can understand that some other territories have less than ideal internet speeds, so this time around I was fortunate enough to get through much of Octopath Traveler‘s Primrose prologue without any issue except for the slow buffering time. Yes, even where I am, the connection sucks if you’re not willing to pay up.

The experience of streaming superhero movies and reality shows doesn’t require too much to pull off, and it’s certainly different when it comes to gaming, where there’s still a long way to go before this becomes the primary manner in which we could play games on.


Even then, Phil Spencer’s vision is exciting – a future where players can play the game they want, with anyone they want, and however which way they want. It’s a bold vision for sure, one with impediments left and right, but Xbox Cloud Gaming is a great step into fulfilling that. I’ve had a taste of it, and while my current state allows me access to these next-gen consoles, the idea of not having to spend upwards of a thousand dollars to maintain two consoles and a PC just to indulge my gaming tendencies sounds very enticing.

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