Editorial

How Microsoft is creating a big push for free to play cloud-based games

Their upcoming portfolio of games could finally make cloud gaming more mainstream on mobile!

Recently, Epic Games struck a partnership with Microsoft to bring Fortnite to mobile devices, PCs, and any other device which meets some basic requirements with a web browser through Xbox Cloud Gaming for completely free to push Microsoft’s Xbox Everywhere initiative. Cloud Gaming has been a widely debated concept for a while now, however, it has turned in a small number ($1.6 billion in 2021, reports Newzoo).

Microsoft Xbox Cloud Fortnite Gaming
Microsoft Cloud Gaming push provides a massive boost for all Fortnite fans

According to various reports, it’s nowhere close to what traditional, hardware-based gaming makes. And that’s due to projects like Stadia and Xbox Games Pass not pulling in enough users. Although no downloads and low requirements sound cool, players still haven’t warmed up to cloud gaming. 

Fortnite is the first of many (hopefully high quality) Cloud-based games

Fortnite is a pretty good title to begin this project and shows how the collection will likely consist of higher-quality titles. This recent deal could be the first major push we see for cloud gaming. So far, it has been down to subscription-based services like Stadia and Xbox Game Pass, which unfortunately hasn’t pulled in enough people.

However, with a free-to-play system that is easily accessible through web browsers and doesn’t require any special hardware or an expensive device, Microsoft could get considerable success here. The post on their official website stated:

“It’s an important step to add a Free-to-Play title to the cloud gaming catalog as we continue our cloud journey. We’re starting with Fortnite and will look to bring more Free-to-Play games people love in the future. At Xbox, we want to make gaming accessible to the 3 billion players around the world, and the cloud has an important role in that mission. Quite simply we want you to have more choice in both the games you play and the way you choose to play them.” 

Microsoft

Going with Fortnite which has a considerable player base could bring in a lot of players initially. Furthermore, if they are successful in backing the service with stronger titles, it could gain a lot of attention. This is huge for mobile, especially where players wouldn’t have to wait for game developers to publish a port, instead, they could stream the game. This is something that other services promised but something about a free-to-play and easily accessible system sounds way more attractive.

XBOX Cloud Games could be the first serious contender in the Cloud Gaming sphere

Stadia was the only other major competitor so far and considering how they have left much to be desired, Microsoft has got a good spot to start. It can also be said that they’re a step ahead of GeForce since Fortnite did plan out something with Nvidia too but seems to have chosen Xbox Cloud over what they had to offer.

We could finally see cloud gaming mature (although it might take a few more years) and get past a stage of uncertainty and doubt, for both gamers and the services. There’s still a lot to figure out, but until there are some game-changers in the race (like Xbox Cloud Games), it would probably speed up the process.

NVIDIA Fortnite GeForce Now Cover
Image via NVIDIA

Hopefully, they’ll be expanding the beta to other regions and releasing it globally soon. Another thing worth touching on is, how this could be yet another platform for smaller developers too. Right now, these services are mostly restricted to AAA titles.

However, as cloud gaming gains steam, it could attract indie developers. And it seems like Microsoft has done something to make that possible since they have reduced their cut to just 12%, something that’s going to give them an edge over the Play Store and App Store, which takes 30%. With a stable internet connection, a Microsoft account, and a web browser being the only requirement, it should be interesting to see where this endeavor goes.

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