Microsoft plans to release its Xbox Streaming Stick within the next 12 months, which will let you stream Xbox Game Pass titles to your TV without having to buy a console.
This is according to Jeff Grubb of VentureBeat and The Verge’s Tom Warren, which claim that Microsoft is gearing up to release the Xbox Streaming Stick next year as part of its Xbox Everywhere project. The initiative aims to expand the reach of Microsoft’s gaming portfolio and extend its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform to new devices.
Grubb says the streaming stick, which may actually look more like the circular Roku puck, will let you stream movies, TV shows, and the catalog of games included with Xbox Game Pass. Grubb also reports that Samsung TV owners will be able to skip the streaming dongle entirely, as Microsoft has partnered with Samsung to develop a bespoke Xbox Cloud Gaming app for the TV maker.
The Xbox Streaming Stick was first revealed at E3 2021. Microsoft said it was developing a native Xbox Game Pass app for smart TVs that would let you stream Xbox games directly through the cloud without needing to buy an expensive Xbox Series X or the cheaper Xbox. S-series
Meanwhile, company vice president Liz Hamren said Microsoft “is also 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”.
We haven’t had any more details on the supposed product since, but Warren thinks we’ll be hearing a lot more about Xbox Everywhere, and all the new hardware that entails, in the months to come.
However, caution should be exercised. Phil Spencer previously mentioned the Xbox TV app in November 2020 and said he expected it to appear within 12 months. This obviously didn’t happen, so it would be best to keep your expectations in check. This time, however, the mention of Project Xbox Everywhere suggests that Microsoft is gearing up for a full reveal.
A game changer
It’s hard to overstate how radical an Xbox Streaming Stick could be. An affordable dongle that lets you stream Xbox Game Pass titles directly to your TV, it would give you a whole new way to access games, and one that wouldn’t require you to splash out on an expensive console. Buy the dongle, find an available HDMI port on your TV, sign up for an Xbox Game Pass subscription, and you’re good to go. This is a significantly lower barrier to entry than the current console-focused process.
There are also plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Equivalent devices for TV streaming services – like Google Chromecast or Amazon Fire Stick – come at a pretty low price. Manufacturers try to retain consumers with a low upfront cost and recoup their money through subscription fees.
While existing Xbox owners might not be thrilled with the idea of a streaming stick that offers them nothing new, Microsoft will be looking to offer the device to consumers who want to play Xbox games but justify the buying an expensive Xbox Series X, or the more affordable Series S. Of course, that doesn’t preclude the need to purchase additional hardware peripherals, like an Xbox controller, to actually play the games.
The fact that Microsoft is looking to release the Xbox Streaming Stick within the next 12 months is surprising, however. The tech giant will want to maximize sales of its Xbox consoles, which only released in 2020, before offering consumers a cheaper alternative. But as Phil Spencer made clear when the stick was first announced, Microsoft doesn’t think cloud gaming and traditional console hardware are at odds.
“There’s still a place for consoles and PCs and frankly there always will be,” Spencer said. “But thanks to the cloud, we will be able to deliver a robust gaming experience to anyone connected to the Internet, even on the least powerful and cheapest devices, devices that people already own.
“And with the cloud, gamers can fully participate in the same Xbox experience as local hardware users.”