Xbox Game Pass will let you play console games on your PC or laptop browser – even if it's rubbish
MICROSOFT is testing a version of Xbox Game Pass that lets you play console games on your PC or laptop.
Better still, it works straight through the browser – so even a cheap laptop will do the job.
The service is called xCloud, and is already available on Android phones and tablets.
Rather than render game graphics on a device, Microsoft lets you stream them over the internet – like a video, but interactive.
It means you can play graphically demanding console-grade games on almost any device.
Now The Verge has revealed that Microsoft is testing xCloud on web browsers.
And the plan is to release a public preview in the future, so regular games can try it too.
It's also a possible route for xCloud to come to the iPhone and iPad – via the Safari web browser.
Microsoft had to skip iPhone for the xCloud launch last year, as Apple said that Microsoft would need to submit individual games for review – just like regular entries to the official App Store.
This led to the launch being scrapped, but xCloud running in browsers gives fresh hope for an iPhone version of the service.
However, the test is currently limited to Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge.
xCloud is linked up to the Xbox Game Pass subscription, which gets you rolling access to great games.
Currently with xCloud and Game Pass Ultimate, you can play more than 100 games on Android phones or tablets.
Video game streaming is hailed by many as the next big evolution in the industry.
When you watch a movie, the images you see are already prepared.
That's why very unsophisticated computers inside your TV, DVD player, or computer can playback film footage.
But video games render the visuals in real-time, because a game never knows what you'll do next.
That means you need much more computing heft to produce game visuals, compared to a standard movie.
So if you want amazing 4K PC-style graphics, you'll need to fork out for an expensive computer.
Alternatively, you could use game streaming technology.
The idea is that a company like Google, Microsoft or Sony would handle the generation of the visuals on powerful computers at its own HQ.
Then it would send what's effectively a video of that game to your smartphone.
You tap and play, and those commands get sent back to Microsoft or Sony, which then inputs them into the game, and sends you the visuals again.
Because modern internet connections are so fast, this all happens in milliseconds.
The resulting effect is 4K PC-style graphics on a smartphone – which is only possible because it's not the phone itself rendering the graphics.
It also means that you could potentially be playing an Xbox or PlayStation game on your console, and then leave the house and carry on playing using your iPhone.
This sort of technology could eventually kill off gaming consoles for good, because all you'd need is a TV with game-streaming tech built in, and a controller to play with.
But game streaming hasn't had any major successes thus far.
The most notable service is Google Stadia, but it's been criticised for a lacklustre selection of games.
However, reviews of the service have been generally positive.
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In other news, The Sun's favourite alternative to a games console is the Oculus Quest 2 VR headset.
Grab a VR headset and you'll be able to play the legendary Beat Saber – like Guitar Hero, but with lightsabers.
And Dell's Alienware R10 Ryzen Edition is a gaming PC powerhouse that crushes both the new consoles.
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