Microsoft (MSFT 3.00%) revealed Thursday that it has big plans to expand Xbox gaming beyond consoles. The company is collaborating with connected TV manufacturers across the globe to embed its Xbox cloud gaming software into their devices. This would allow gamers with these smart TVs to stream Xbox video games and play them on the cloud with nothing more than a controller.
The tech titan also said that it will continue to produce consoles, but is expanding to smart TVs, as well as a number of Microsoft-branded streaming devices that will let gamers access the service from any connected TV without owning a console.
The announcement comes as part of a broader push to expand the availability of Microsoft's Game Pass, a cloud-based subscription service that lets player access a variety of titles, including Alien: Isolation and Gears 5, for a monthly fee of $9.99.
The move will help Microsoft reduce its reliance on physical hardware and console upgrades to attract new gamers to its subscription services. The company is hoping to expand beyond the roughly 200 million households that own a console to the billions of gamers who make up its total addressable market.
"Cloud is key to our hardware and Game Pass road maps," said Liz Hamren, Microsoft's head of Xbox consumer product and engineering. "But no one should think we're slowing down on our core console engineering. In fact, we're accelerating it. We're already hard at work on new hardware and platforms, some of which won't come to light for years."
Microsoft will also provide free trials of games to Xbox console users, which will allow them to try the games before downloading them. The new feature on the Xbox dashboard will let players access Microsoft's Cloud Gaming (xCloud) service to "try before your download," according to Kareem Choudhry, head of cloud gaming at Microsoft.