There's a lot to be said about the current state of gaming. Whether it's the explosion of mobile gaming to go along with the best gaming phones, or if you're still trying to get your hands on the PS5 or one of those fancy, new graphics cards for your PC build. However, there's another aspect entirely that has also exploded in recent months, and that's cloud gaming.
While Google seems to just be waiting around for something to happen with Stadia, others are taking advantage without really pushing the mobile platform too hard. Last year saw the exit of Project xCloud from its "project" status and its entrance into the Google Play Store in an official capacity with Xbox Game Pass. Earlier this year, Microsoft even brought a similar experience to iOS and iPadOS devices, although you'll have to use it as a web app just like Stadia.
As someone who currently has more phones on his desk than he can count, along with a custom-built gaming PC, a Raspberry Pi running RetroPie, a permanently-docked Nintendo Switch, and a PS4 Pro, there's something to be said about consolidation. To a certain extent, this was already possible with the help of the best emulators for Android, along with the likes of the aforementioned Stadia and NVIDIA's GeForce Now. However, with Xbox Game Pass for Android, the consolidation is pretty much complete.
Instead of relying on separate devices entirely to play my favorite games, I can now just use my smartphone and one of the best game controllers for Android. If I want to try out the beta of the upcoming Resident Evil game, I can fire up Stadia in a jiffy. Is it time to relive my childhood with some Pokemon or Zelda? Emulators to the rescue. Playing games from my Steam library when I'm away from home? I'll fire up GeForce Now. What about those console exclusives like the recently launched MLB The Show? Welcome to Xbox Game Pass.
Having too many devices at my disposal is definitely a case of first-world problems, but making my life easier when I want to play some games is great for keeping my mind from going crazy. For example, Dead Cells is a game that's been out for a while now, but it's something that I've just started getting into. I'm also starting to get back into Minecraft for the first time in a few years. Plus, MLB The Show '21 has landed, and this marks the first release for Xbox gamers for arguably the best baseball game on the planet. But instead of having to switch between a smartphone, console, or computer, I can just play everything on one of the best Android phones.
Not everything is perfect, though, not yet, at least. Getting the best experience with Xbox Game Pass requires a few steps. First, you'll need a solid internet connection. Then you'll either need to find a good controller or rely on touch controls. And if you opt for the latter, the experience may not be the best if you find yourself using a smartphone with a smaller screen. Thankfully, this is not something that I, specifically, have to worry about, as I can just fire it up on my trusty ole Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2. And if I want an even bigger screen, but don't want to deal with my PC, then I can just fire it up on my iPad Pro.
The recent news of Sony investing in Discord for the PS5 notwithstanding, Microsoft has been making huge leaps in the gaming world. The company has been acquiring game studios left and right, with the biggest being Bethesda, and bringing that enormous library of phenomenal games along with it. But instead of making everyone wait and wait, Microsoft has continually adding more games to Xbox Game Pass. It seems that every day that I load up Twitter or Reddit, there are even more games available. Plus, with MLB The Show, Microsoft made it available on launch day instead of giving console gamers some time by themselves before opening the door for Game Pass users on mobile to join in.
Something else to go along with Game Pass is the ability to play games that I can't play on my PC or PS4 Pro. Sticking with The Show, this isn't a game that can be purchased on a PC, as it's only available for consoles. However, there's a way to bypass this and play on the computer anyway, and that's with Game Pass in the browser.
Not everything is perfect with Game Pass just yet, though. There are latency issues, which is fine for some games, but for other games requiring precise timing to perform moves, it may be an issue. You could get a Razer Kishi that plugs right into the USB-C port on your phone, but if you already have an Xbox controller, then that's just a bit redundant. Plus, there's the whole "adding another subscription" issue that we have found our collective selves in if you aren't already a paying subscriber. But on the bright side, there are usually $1 trials that can be had from Microsoft, creating a low-friction barrier for those interested in the 'Netflix for Games'.
Nevertheless, Microsoft is putting its Game Pass library of more than 100 games in your hands, working wherever you are, with whatever device you're using. And it's why I'm finally giving up the goose on my PS4 Pro and trading it in to GameStop for a few pennies.
Cloud gaming from any of your devices.
With the ability to access games from the web or on your favorite Android phone, Xbox Game Pass provides the ultimate gaming experience from wherever you are. With more than 100 different games to choose from, and more being added all the time, there's no shortage of awesome games to relax and play.
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Andrew Myrick is a Senior Editor at Android Central. He enjoys everything to do with technology, including tablets, smartphones, and everything in between. Perhaps his favorite past-time is collecting different headphones, even if they all end up in the same drawer.