Xbox outlines vision ahead of E3 2021, announces Game Pass cloud gaming upgrades

Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella talk about Xbox strategy.
Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella talk about Xbox strategy Photo credit: Xbox

Xbox has given an insight into its strategy ahead of the 2021 E3 expo next week: the biggest company in gaming is only getting bigger.

Perhaps the greatest advantage Xbox has over its competitors is Xbox Game Pass, the subscription service that offers access to a massive amount of games for a monthly fee.

It's unparalleled in the industry and the focus of multiple blog posts and material shared with media by Xbox this week has been on making it an even better offering.

Subscribers to the service's top tier in certain countries can play games streamed from the cloud on devices like smartphones and tablets, bypassing the need for an actual gaming console.

Soon it's being rolled out to more countries and, crucially, more screens.

In a blog post on the company's website published overnight it announced it's "working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience directly into internet-connected televisions with no extra hardware required except a controller".

"Xbox is building its own streaming devices for cloud gaming to reach gamers on any TV or monitor without the need for a console at all," the Xbox blog continued. 

A promotional video showed four people playing Sea of Thieves together on four different devices - one an Xbox console, the others different devices like a desktop browser and an iPad.

In a video shared with media, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella chats with Xbox boss Phil Spencer about the company's approach to gaming.

The conversation emphasised what a crucial part gaming is to the wider company and hammered home that the subscription service is its primary strategy.

"As a company, Microsoft is all-in on gaming," said Nadella. 

"There are three areas where we believe we have incredible competitive advantage. First is our leadership in cloud computing. Second, the resources we have to build out the subscription value with Xbox Game Pass.

"Third is our overall focus on empowering the creators."

Nadella said Game Pass is "truly redefining how games are distributed, played and shared".

"With Game Pass coming to the browser, the value of the subscription is going to transcend from the console to the PC to the mobile," he said.

"Cloud gaming is truly a breakthrough experience. I mean, for me, you just go to, and I'll tell you, it's a really fast, easy way to get into gaming. It's been a game-changer for me."

Nadella and Spencer also talked about their pride in Microsoft buying ZeniMax Media, the company that owns Bethesda, for US$7.5 billion in 2020, as just one of the multitude of ways it's bolstering Game Pass.

The blog post also highlighted other studio acquisitions Xbox has made in recent years, boasting "more than 23 studios worldwide" are currently creating games exclusively for Xbox.

While some of those studios are working on titles we already know about, there are plenty of unknown games also in the works. 

Some are sure to be revealed at the E3 Xbox & Bethesda Games Showcase, which kicks off online at 5am on Monday here in New Zealand.