Can’t buy Xbox Series X? Xbox games could be streamed to TVs in 2021

Xbox Series X and LG TV
(Image credit: LG and Microsoft)

If you can’t get an Xbox Series X then don’t worry as there could soon be a new way to play Xbox games without a games console, and it’s thanks to the future of Microsoft’s Project xCloud

In an interview with The Verge, Xbox boss Phil Spencer said that Microsoft could create an Xbox app that allows Xbox games to be streamed to smart TVs, much like xCloud enables Xbox games to be streamed to Android phones

“I think you’re going to see that in the next 12 months,” Spencer explained, when The Verge asked about the potential for an Xbox TV app. “I don’t think anything is going to stop us from doing that.”

Now out of a beta period, Xbox game streaming can be accessed as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, and allows a selection of games to be streamed over Wi-Fi and cellular broadband to Android devices via the Xbox Game Pass app. When used with a controller, a whole suite of Xbox games can be played this way, though some can be accessed with just touch controls. 

Given we’ve already seen how Google Stadia can enable games to be streamed to smart TVs via a connected Chromecast, it’s not a huge leap for Microsoft to create its own smart TV app. After all, Microsoft already works closely with Samsung on getting its apps and Game Pass access onto the likes of the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra. So there’s plenty of scope for that partnership to extend to Samsung TVs. 

Providing you have a suitable smart TV and a good internet connection, as well as an Xbox Wireless Controller, there’s no reason why streaming games to a TV directly, for a monthly subscription fee, would be anything but a shrewd move for Microsoft. After all, the Redmond company is already pushing Game Pass pretty heavily. 

There may be a few technical hurdles in terms of TV operating system compatibility and dealing with issues of latency, but this potential next step in xCloud game streaming seems rather logical. 

And for people struggling to get an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S - check out our where to buy Xbox Series X article if you're having trouble - such a smart TV app could be a panacea to a console shortage likely to carry on into 2021. 

Yet, while Microsoft has one of the largest cloud platforms in the world, and already offers a lot of software in the form of streamed services, it’s not likely to abandon Xbox hardware altogether. Rather Spencer sees Microsoft having an Xbox ecosystem that blends consoles with streaming services. 

“I don’t think these will be the last big pieces of hardware that we ship,” said Spencer. 

“When we think about xCloud, which is our version of Stadia or Luna, I think what it needs to evolve to are games that actually run between a hybrid environment of the cloud and the local compute capability,” Spencer explained. “It’s really a hybrid between both of those.”

We may still need to wait a year or so before such an Xbox TV app becomes a reality. But it’s yet another reason why 2021 is going to be a very interesting time for Xbox. 

Roland Moore-Colyer

Roland Moore-Colyer a Managing Editor at Tom’s Guide with a focus on news, features and opinion articles. He often writes about gaming, phones, laptops and other bits of hardware; he’s also got an interest in cars. When not at his desk Roland can be found wandering around London, often with a look of curiosity on his face.