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Xbox Game Pass: Did Microsoft just announce a streaming stick for cloud gaming?

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Image credit: Microsoft)

We've tested the Xbox Game Pass cloud-gaming platform on funky phones such as the Microsoft Surface Duo and the LG Wing. While the service ran smoothly and the double-screen action was awesome, gaming on a phone isn't ideal with their miniature displays and unwieldy controls.

Fortunately, Microsoft announced that it's building dedicated cloud-gaming devices for gamers. The Redmond-based tech giant promised that the hardware would make it easier for users to game on monitors and TVs without a console.

Microsoft is building dedicated cloud-gaming devices

Microsoft didn't divulge the type of cloud-gaming hardware it's working on, but as TechCrunch pointed out, there's a good chance the Redmond-based tech giant is building a Chromecast-like streaming stick or a small Apple TV-esque box.

Microsoft Project xCloud beta

Microsoft Project xCloud beta (Image credit: Microsoft)

It's worth noting that, in an interview with Stratechery last October, Xbox head Phil Spencer hinted that Microsoft was working on TV streaming sticks for its cloud-gaming platform.

“I think you’re going to see lower-priced hardware as part of our ecosystem when you think about streaming sticks and other things that somebody might want to just go plug into their TV and go play via xCloud,” Spencer told Stratechery. 

This isn't the first time Microsoft had streaming-stick ambitions. In 2016, Xbox planned to launch a streaming device codenamed "Project Hobart" — the company was even poised to unveil it at E3. Unfortunately, the project got shut down. Five years after the cancellation, however, it looks like the Xbox streaming stick is back on Microsoft's roadmap.

A new Xbox TV app is on the way

In addition to the cloud-gaming device, Microsoft announced that it's working with global TV manufacturers to embed the Xbox experience into smart TVs. Gamers won't need any other hardware besides a controller.

The Redmond-based tech giant is hush-hush about the TV companies it's working with for this new Xbox TV app, but keep in mind that Microsoft announced a strengthened partnership with Samsung last February. Perhaps we'll see the Xbox TV app appear on Samsung TVs in the near future.

Microsoft insinuated that it is pushing out lower-priced hardware to make gaming more accessible to those of all socio-economic backgrounds. In other words, the company doesn't want prospective consumers to be hindered from using its subscription services because they don't have the required hardware.

“We believe that Microsoft can play a leading role in democratizing gaming and defining the future of interactive entertainment," Xbox Wire Editor-in-Chief Will Turtle said. 

The Redmond-based tech giant concluded its announcements by reminding fans that the Xbox and Bethesda Games Showcase will launch on Sunday, June 13 at 1 p.m. EST.