When you move items such as letters and parcels, the most expensive part of the shipping trip is the last mile. This requires the most time and effort. Something similar happens with remote gaming. Microsoft can build an ancient network on the backbone of the Internet to deliver games to its customers in a jiffy, but once the video feed hits a person’s home, it is the ultimate way to get a decent experience. Is up to the user.
In part, it is a home-networking problem – or a mobile-data problem while traveling. But I think the more obvious complexity is with the hardware you would use to interface with cloud games.
Microsoft wants to get more customers on its $ 15-per-month Xbox Game Pass ultimate, which includes cloud streaming at no additional charge. There are more than 150 games in that service and more are happening soon. You can find the complete list on the Xbox News blog.
But if it’s going to work, Microsoft needs to pay a lot of attention to the last-mile experience.
Phone clips and other dubious solutions for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
The most obvious way to play cloud-streaming games is on your phone, but what are you going to do to control? If you’re an animal, you can use the onscreen button, but most people want a controller. These games were made for the gamepad, and you should use one. And there is no comfortable way to combine your phone and controller into a cohesive gaming unit. Instead, we are currently compromising for phone clips.
These clips are pieces of plastic that wrap around your gamepad and then fasten your phone to it. It is a functional form factor, and the best thing I can say. Even at their best, they are uncomfortable. The whole thing is very heavy and very terrible. For example, I do not like using this setup, because it feels like the phone is about to collapse. It probably won’t happen, but it looks like it will. Subconsciously, I finish the clip and the phone in such a way that my hands get tired.
But even outside the comfort, it is just a substandard experience. The clamp always hits my volume rocker, so I need to slightly offset the device. It ends with me holding the controller-center so the screen is still in the right place. It is not a very good experience.
You want something better
I got a smartphone cloud-gaming setup that I did do However, viz. The Razer Keishi is a universal snap on the gamepad that the company has designed for the phone. The test I tested works with almost any Android handheld device, and you can get it for $ 80 (or $ 100 with Xbox branding).
Kish is great in many ways. It is decent as a controller, but I appreciate that it is not Bluetooth. Instead, it plugs directly into your phone for low-latency play. The design also makes your phone feel like a switch, which is my favorite way to play handheld games.
But I do not love Kishi. This is a good tool that I like Use, but it is a different Clooney thing that you have to buy and take with you if you want to play the game. And usually my phone doesn’t like being stuck in something like a shell or a clamp. Usually, I keep my phone with me when I’m playing something, but I get lost when I’m using Kishi to play. This is when I think checking social media during long loading screens.
All of this makes me wish that I could get Microsoft’s XCloud streaming on the Switch (without the Homebrew solution). However, Nintendo does not appear to be open. So I would welcome a dedicated Xbox handheld. Maybe Indy can do something good to run the game and then stream the rest from the cloud. Maybe work with the Surface Duo team on a sleek controller add-on and then let me use my second screen while playing the game. I will probably still wait for the second generation Duo, but if I include a solution to this cloud-gaming formfactor problem, I will strongly consider it.
Microsoft knows what it needs
One thing I can say about Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and cloud gaming is that Microsoft understands these problems. It has partnered with Samsung and Razer to specifically address these concerns. During Samsung’s Unpacked event in August, Phil Spencer joined the broadcast to talk about bringing Game Pass to Galaxy phones. And thus having a hardware partnership can prove to be important. If Microsoft thinks something it wants or needs to improve streaming, Samsung is a market leader. It can do something and will follow others.
But it goes beyond phones and consoles. Samsung also makes televisions, and the idea of getting Xbox Game Pass Ultimate directly into smart TVs is compelling. If all of you need to start gaming, then install an app on the TV that you already have in your family room, the game pass can be finished as quickly as possible. And again, partnering with Samsung could mean tricks including an Xbox gamepad with some TVs.
Microsoft can do this job, and I hope it does. I am too busy for traditional console gaming. Give me something that can move with me, drives high-end games well, and is as comfortable as a switch. It is not at that level yet, but the game pass looks like it understands that trajectory.