Xbox and Game Pass will be available on iOS, smart TVs, and other devices, according to Microsoft

Time for Microsoft to launch an Xbox Laptop

The big picture: Long a major player in the console market with Xbox, Microsoft is drifting away from a dependency on physical hardware, arguing that its path to success is about streaming.

Microsoft will offer access to Xbox games across an increasingly broad range of devices, including smart TVs and iPhones, company executives said this week during press briefings about its gaming business.

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“Through the cloud, we will be able to deliver a robust gaming experience to anyone connected to the Internet, even on the least powerful, least expensive devices, even on devices they already own,” Xbox boss Phil Spencer said in pre-recorded remarks offered ahead of the company’s big E3 gaming showcase this Sunday.

The goal, company executives say, is to reach beyond the 200 million or so households worldwide who might buy a console — to the billions of people who could or would play on other devices.

Xbox games like “Halo” and “Sea of Thieves” are still played mainly on Xboxes, but in recent years Microsoft has aggressively developed the server architecture to allow many of those games to be streamed to Android phone users, who can use touch controls or an attached controller to play.

Microsoft now says a beta version of that service that streams games through a web browser will go into wide release “in the next few weeks.”

That browser offering will allow Xbox streaming to work on PCs and — circumventing Apple app restrictions that infuriated Microsoft — on iPhones and iPads.

Microsoft also plans to bring the “Xbox experience” to smart TVs and even offline monitors through some sort of streaming device, the company said. Microsoft isn’t abandoning consoles. In pre-recorded remarks, an Xbox executive referred to consoles as their “flagship” experience and teased future developments.

“We’re already hard at work on new hardware and platforms, some of which won’t come to light for years,” Xbox’s head of platforms Liz Hamren said. But Microsoft refrains from predicting a win in the hardware race against Sony and Nintendo, which both trounced Xbox in the previous console generation.

Spencer predicted “share growth this generation” for Xbox Series X and S, which launched a new generational fight against the PlayStation 5 last November.

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