Your Complete Guide to Cloud Gaming on Xbox

November 8, 2023 • April Miller


Do you want to game from anywhere on any device? With Xbox Cloud Gaming, you’re no longer restricted to handhelds or laptops. Here’s a look into what it is, what it gives you and why you should consider getting it.

What Is Xbox Cloud Gaming?

Xbox Cloud Gaming is a video-game-on-demand service that lets you play on almost any device. It gives you access to a rotating library of new, classic and iconic video games. You can use it to get back into your latest fixation, no matter if you’re in your living room or away from home.

Once you select the option to play using the cloud, you can jump into a game from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. It’s useful if you want to get on while traveling or play something without sitting through a download. 

How Does Xbox Cloud Gaming Work?

Cloud gaming works by remotely connecting your device to Microsoft data center servers. You pay a monthly subscription to access this feature. If you have high enough internet speed — 20 Mbps or more — you can play whatever you want. 

Before you ask, playing a game using the cloud doesn’t turn on your Xbox. While remote play uses your console to establish a connection, this service doesn’t. Unless you’re literally playing on it, you don’t need to worry about it turning itself on.

Are you wondering how to use Xbox Cloud Gaming? You need a console, an internet connection and a compatible device to get started. Although some games let you use a touchscreen, we don’t think the button layout is very intuitive or user-friendly. Instead, we recommend using a controller to get the most out of the experience. 

You can play on phones, tablets, PCs, smart TVs and some handheld gaming devices. Depending on what you play on, you need to use the Xbox app, one of three supported browsers or the Xbox Game Pass mobile app. If you want a better gaming experience, there are attachments and special accessories that make gaming on-the-go much more manageable. 

What Does Game Pass Ultimate Give You?

Game Pass Ultimate gives you access to cloud gaming, hundreds of free games, exclusive perks, online multiplayer, day-one drops, member discounts and an EA Play membership. Most reviewers say it’s the best service overall because no competitor offers as much. Honestly, it’s high quality and worth the money. It being popular with millions of gamers should tell you as much.

While new perks don’t appear often, the ones Xbox offers are always great. You usually get exclusive skins, in-game currency and lengthy trial subscriptions. For example, the late 2023 lineup includes a premium Crunchyroll subscription, Discord Nitro, a Fallout 76 bundle and 14,000 loot coins for KartRider — all for free.

If you want to compare your options, the PC Game Pass includes everything but perks and the cloud service, while the console version only comes with around 25 games, online multiplayer and member discounts. You get the best of both worlds with Ultimate since it lets you play on PC and on console. The available titles somewhat differ, but you’ll find much of the same stuff.

What Games Are on Cloud Gaming?

While some games on Game Pass Ultimate aren’t playable with cloud gaming, you still get access to a ton of iconic titles. You can play things like “Warhammer 40,000: Darktide,” “Starfield,” “DOOM,” “Back 4 Blood,” “No Man’s Sky” and “Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order.” It has some of the best Xbox 360 games and plenty of modern titles.

Your subscription covers every genre you can think of — and more. Since Game Pass rotates titles, you’ll always find something new to play. Although Xbox doesn’t follow strict release dates, gamers have grown accustomed to new drops once a month at minimum. Usually, their release dates are staggered throughout the month.

While games usually stay on Game Pass for a year or two at least, you might eventually find out your favorite title is leaving soon. Worry not, since Xbox always discounts them for members. You can take advantage of the special mini sale to get them for cheap. 

How Much Does Xbox Cloud Gaming Cost? 

Since cloud gaming is only available through Game Pass Ultimate, you have to pay $16.99 monthly to access it. It increased recently, so this will likely be the price for a while. It might seem pretty steep as far as these kinds of services go, but remember you also get exclusive rewards, perks and a rotating catalog of games.

Still, spending nearly $20 per month can add up quickly, especially if you don’t use the other perks. Do you want to get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for less? We’ll let you in on a secret — you can buy the cheaper subscription and upgrade it at no extra cost. 

If you already have a subscription, you have to cancel it. Then, you buy three years of Xbox Game Pass Core — formerly known as Xbox Live Gold — and one month of Ultimate. Since Microsoft automatically upgrades you at a 3:2 ratio, it bumps you to a higher tier.

Once the dust settles, you’ll have two years of Ultimate. The lost year might seem bad, but you actually save roughly $235 in total. It’s a worthwhile sacrifice. Plus, going through with it protects you from any future price increases. If you prefer a trial instead of a $375 for a multi-year subscription, wait until Xbox offers its classic $1 promotion.

Should You Get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate?

If you want to get into cloud gaming, we think Game Pass Ultimate is a good place to start. While the visuals can be choppy at times and there’s a potential for lag, people with solid internet connections should have smooth graphics and a stable framerate. 

Besides, Ultimate is one of the rare services that offers a ton of other features on top of the cloud capabilities. While it’s more expensive than some of its competitors, its game library, exclusive perks and member discounts make up for the higher price. 

Play From Anywhere at Any Time

Cloud gaming is fantastic for people who are always on the go or who want to jump right into games without waiting for a download. If you own an Xbox console, using the cloud to game through Game Pass Ultimate is the best choice for you.