Xbox reportedly launching standalone cloud streaming device for TVs

The planned device could reportedly replace the need for an Xbox entirely – although keen punters in Australia shouldn't hold their breath for a local release.
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Xbox is reportedly planning to launch a standalone cloud streaming device for TVs within the next 12 months, according to insight from VentureBeat. This device would resemble similar streaming ‘sticks’, such as those from Google, Amazon, and Roku, and operate separately to Xbox consoles.

In addition, VentureBeat reports the possibility of Xbox Game Pass and its cloud streaming capability coming to Android TVs in the form of an app, suggesting a partnership with Samsung. While a lack of dedicated Xbox controller to play games may be a challenge, it’s likely the ‘stick’ in the works would account for new, ergonomic gameplay, perhaps through a linked mobile device.

Essentially, a device like this would allow players to jump into Xbox games on TVs via cloud streaming, as they can currently do on mobiles and PCs – although there are certainly a lot of questions surrounding this potential device. The most obvious is whether it will launch in countries that lack robust cloud streaming servers.

In Australia, for example, cloud streaming is still largely in its infancy – and while companies like Microsoft are pushing forward with cloud capabilities it’s still largely inaccessible, particularly in areas where internet speeds aren’t consistent.

Read: Why Australia doesn’t get Nintendo Switch cloud games

Cloud streaming is a fascinating technology, and one that has the capability of enhancing games by processing data in an external server, and allowing players to reap the benefits of additional computing power. This is done to great effect in Microsoft Flight Simulator, which provides more detailed, engaging worlds to fly through when cloud streaming is active.

But as it stands, cloud streaming is still a burgeoning technology, one that requires more development time before it can make a major impact in the mainstream. Google’s big push for cloud game streaming with Stadia met with a tepid response. Should plans for the reported Microsoft cloud streaming device come to fruition, expect it to launch in only select regions as the company tests the waters of Xbox-less game streaming.

Having a cheaper device that could allow owners to subscribe to Xbox Game Pass without a highly-sought-after console could help Microsoft reach more homes than ever – although when you consider the currently-limited application of cloud streaming services around the world, it’s clear the launch of such a device would also come with its own unique set of challenges.

Whatever Microsoft has planned for its cloud streaming stick will likely become clear over the next few months, should the rumours pan out. At this stage, it appears to be a very intriguing experiment that could provide an important cloud streaming touchpoint for the future.

Leah J. Williams is a gaming and entertainment journalist who's spent years writing about the games industry, her love for The Sims 2 on Nintendo DS and every piece of weird history she knows. You can find her tweeting @legenette most days.