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Microsoft plans to launch a game streaming service

Some content won’t require an Xbox

Phil Spencer on stage at this year’s E3 wearing a State of Decay t-shirt. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Microsoft’s Phil Spencer says the company has plans to debut a game streaming service some time in the next three years. In an interview with Bloomberg, published today, the executive vice president of Xbox says that some types of content will not require a console.

The interview, which comes on the eve of the launch of the upgraded Xbox One X console, was brief but wide ranging. In it, Spencer expressed a desire to spool up or acquire one or more new game studio to help reinvigorate the Xbox brand.

“We need to grow,” Spencer said, “and I look forward to doing that.”

But the real news was dropped almost as an aside, and came late in the article:

Microsoft will probably debut a streaming service that doesn’t require a console for some types of content in the next three years, Spencer said. A 2012 trial of such a service inside the company was too costly and never made it to the market, but Microsoft’s progress in Azure cloud services over the past few years is changing the economics and quality level, he said.

Microsoft currently offers Xbox Game Pass, a subscription service that allows users to download and play a selection of Xbox titles for $9.99 per month. The launch of a game streaming service would bring Microsoft to parity with Sony, which has its own game streaming service called PlayStation Now. In July of this year, Sony announced that PS Now would include current generation titles, meaning that subscribers on Windows PC are currently able to stream PS4 games directly to their computer.

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