Xbox Game Pass‘s xCloud streaming service is now in beta for Android mobile devices, and the arrival of a new cloud-based streaming platform again highlights how intriguing the streaming idea can be. But streaming games from the internet, rather than playing them on your own hardware, has been around in various forms for a while, and it has always suffered from something of a practicality gap between conception and execution. Sure, if you’ve got a stable enough internet connection, it’s nice to play video games without having to spring for expensive hardware–especially in the often-confusing, technical world of PC gaming. But if you’re already pretty interested in video games, you’re probably already pretty invested in video games. For the largest audience of people who like games, what’s the real upshot of streaming if they’ve already bought in?
Playing with xCloud on an Android device, the thing that struck me most was how much the service can unlock you from the traditional places where games have to be played. It’s the thing that has most endeared me to my Nintendo Switch: I can wander around my apartment with it, I can take it outside or to bed, and I can play it without tying up a TV or computer that other people sharing space with me might also want to use. Firing up xCloud on an Android phone and jumping into a Halo: Master Chief Collection multiplayer match, I had the same feeling–a feeling we’ve all come to enjoy.
I’m speaking, of course, about enjoying a full-fledged AAA video game from the toilet.