Microsoft’s ‘Netflix of gaming’ brings ‘Halo’ and ‘Gears of War’ to smartphones this October, and will be free to try (MSFT, GOOGL)

  • Microsoft is working on a major new gaming service that intends to do for gaming what Netflix did for movies: Project xCloud is a new streaming service for gaming.
  • Like Netflix, xCloud intends to deliver games via stream over the internet. No downloads, and no discs — just games streamed directly to your device of choice, wherever you are.
  • The service goes live in October, but it starts in a limited beta that costs nothing to participate in. 
  • At first, it will only work with Android smartphones that have been paired with an Xbox gamepad.
  • The first games coming to the service are "Gears 5," "Halo 5: Guardians," "Sea of Thieves," and "Killer Instinct."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Microsoft's ambitious vision for the future of gaming doesn't rely on a high-powered, expensive box sitting underneath your TV.

Instead, it's as simple as Netflix.

Just as Netflix allows you to watch movies and TV shows from any device, a streaming video game service would let you play high-end, blockbuster video games anytime, anyplace and on any device — your phone, or tablet, or laptop, or TV. No game console required.

With "Project xCloud," Microsoft is creating that streaming video game service.

Project xCloud aims to establish itself as the de facto standard in video game streaming services. And, in October, the service is scheduled to go public.

Project xCloud at E3 2019

We tried out Project xCloud back in June at Microsoft's E3 2019 showcase.
Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

Microsoft announced as much on Tuesday afternoon during an "Inside Xbox" livestream.

The company also announced the first games coming to the service: "Gears 5," "Halo 5: Guardians," "Sea of Thieves," and "Killer Instinct." 

All four games will be included for free through a new Microsoft Game Streaming app, the company said. 

Read more: Hands-on with Microsoft's Project xCloud

An FAQ alongside the announcement spells out the arrangement more clearly: "For the Project xCloud Preview, you do not need to buy or own any content. You will stream it directly from the cloud, which includes access to the list of games available during the preview period."

When the service lights up in October, it will only work with Android smartphones that have been paired with an Xbox gamepad. "While not required, we recommend a phone mount for your controller," Microsoft's blog post says.

Gears 5 Versus

"Gears 5," one of the four games launching with xCloud in October.
"Gears 5"/Microsoft

Though the service launches with just four games, Microsoft says it will add more games as time goes on.

One likely candidate: "Forza Horizon 4." When we tried the service back in June at the game industry's annual trade show, E3, Microsoft was showcasing its arcade-style racing game alongside "Halo 5."

When xCloud lights up for the public in October, it will be in beta form — unfinished, available in a limited capacity, and free. The first three regions are the US, UK, and Korea with others to follow.

Moreover, Microsoft has no end date for xCloud's public beta.

"The preview will continue until customers are consistently reporting a great, fun experience and the technology meets our internal quality standards," Microsoft's blog post said. "We plan to begin with focused groups in the early stages for stability purposes and then to expand over time."

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