Executives at Microsoft this week announced new plans to develop a streaming television stick that will allow users of its Xbox platform to stream games over the Internet.
As described, the streaming stick would allow Xbox users to stream games from the cloud in a fashion similar to Google’s Stadia (which runs on Chromecast devices) and Amazon’s Luna gaming services.
“We’re…developing standalone streaming devices that you can plug into a TV or monitor, so if you have a strong internet connection, you can stream your Xbox experience,” Liz Hamran, the company’s executive in charge of gaming initiatives, said this week.
The move is part of a broader initiative to liberate the Xbox gaming experience beyond Microsoft’s own gaming console hardware. The company already allows Xbox gamers to play titles through their personal computers (PCs) running the latest version of Windows with a Game Pass subscription. Some smartphones and tablets are also able to connect to Xbox games through the cloud.
Soon, Microsoft says other hardware platforms will support the same feature through Game Pass, and the company is already working with a handful of unnamed smart TV manufacturers to enable its cloud gaming service.
“We’re working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Game Pass experience directly into internet-connected TVs so all you’ll need to play is a controller,” Hamren said.
Executives have previously suggested that the cloud gaming experience could roll out to smart TVs and other platforms by the end of the year, though no specific timetable has been revealed.
As far as the streaming stick goes, Microsoft has offered very few details about what the hardware will look like or how it will work beyond its cloud gaming initiative. The company offers streaming television apps for its Xbox consoles, with support for Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, Disney Plus, Youtube, YouTube TV and other popular services. It is possible that a Microsoft-produced streaming stick would connect to the Xbox store and allow customers to download these streaming apps, too.