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Game demos coming to Xbox Game Pass within the next year

You’ll also be able to play games you own outside Game Pass from the cloud

Images of Xbox Studios games like Forza and Halo behind a message that reads: discover your next favorite game Image: Microsoft
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

Microsoft has announced a couple of ways it intends to expand the benefits of Xbox Game Pass membership over the next year: a game demo program, and the ability to play select games you already own outside Game Pass via Cloud Gaming.

The addition of demos to Game Pass may seem like a response to the inclusion of time-limited game trials in higher tiers of the revamped PlayStation Plus subscription offering. But in fact, Microsoft’s program, codenamed Project Moorcroft, sounds quite different.

PlayStation Plus will offer time-limited trials of premium recent releases, like Horizon Forbidden West. But with Game Pass offering access to first-party Xbox games in full on day one, there wouldn’t be much point in Microsoft replicating this service.

Instead, Project Moorcroft will “bring the fun and discovery of playing new, curated demos of upcoming games,” according to Microsoft, and will begin with a focus on indie developers. Microsoft is pitching the program as a way for indies to build hype around their games and gather data on how they perform, and for players to sample select future releases. It sounds closer to Steam’s Next Fest events than Sony’s try-before-you-buy service, and is undoubtedly aimed at strengthening Xbox’s ties to the indie development community in the same way.

Project Moorcroft “will begin rolling out within the next year” for Game Pass subscribers, Microsoft said.

Additionally, Microsoft revealed that later this year, Game Pass Ultimate subscribers will be able to use the Xbox Cloud Gaming service to play games outside the Game Pass library for the first time.

“Select” games that players already own or have purchased will be made available to stream on mobile devices, through browsers and through the newly-announced Xbox app for Samsung smart TVs. There’s no word on which games will be included in this “bring your own games” service yet.

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