Microsoft has offered people a way to play hundreds of games on devices other than PCs or its Xbox consoles with its Xbox Cloud Gaming service. However, the only way to access Xbox Cloud Gaming is with a paid subscription to the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service, which also offers other features like Xbox Game Pass, PC Game Pass, and more.
While Microsoft has been pretty quiet on future concrete plans to make changes or improvements to Xbox Cloud Gaming for a while, some recent comments by a company executive may hint on a major effort to expand the reach of Microsoft’s cloud game services.
In comments made a few weeks ago at the Wells Fargo TMT Summit, and later picked up by TweakTown, Microsoft’s Xbox chief financial officer Tim Stuart talked about accessing Xbox Cloud Gaming in parts of the world that don’t sell many Xbox game consoles or sell PCs:
For models like Africa, or India, Southeast Asia, maybe places that aren’t console-first, you can say, ‘hey, do you want to watch 30 seconds of an ad and then get two hours of game streaming?’
Africa is, you know, 50% of the population is 23 years old or younger with a growing disposable income base, all with cell phones and mobile devices, not a lot of high-end disposable income, generally-speaking.
So we can go in with our own business models and say…there’s millions and millions of gamers we would never have been able to address there, and now we can go in with our business models.
The idea of letting gamers play premium games for free with ads is nothing new, of course. There are lots of mobile games that let players access more content, or give them in-game currently if they view a 30-second or longer video commercial on the screen.
While Stuart’s comments are definitely not confirmation that Microsoft will offer an ad-based free plan for Xbox Cloud Gaming, the fact that he mentioned such an idea likely means the company has at least been brainstorming the idea for a little while. It remains to be seen if Microsoft would pull the trigger on such a plan or what form it might take.