Forget Xbox Series X — Microsoft could be making a streaming stick

Xbox Series X
(Image credit: Xbox)

Editor's Note: Years after this story was published, Microsoft confirmed it's working on a dongle that will turn any TV into an Xbox, allowing you to stream select Xbox games.

The $499 Xbox Series X and the $299 Xbox Series S are just weeks away from launch, with the latter designed to offer an accessible entry point into next-gen gaming. But Microsoft could have even more affordable hardware for playing new Xbox games in the form of streaming sticks, according to a new interview with Xbox boss Phil Spencer.

Speaking to Stratechery (via The Verge), Spencer touched on the possibility of additional versions of Xbox Game Pass — including one that could come with dedicated hardware for streaming Xbox games to TVs.

“I think you’re going to see lower priced hardware as part of our ecosystem when you think about streaming sticks and other things that somebody might want to just go plug into their TV and go play via xCloud,” Spencer told Stratechery. 

“You could imagine us even having something that we just included in the Game Pass subscription that gave you an ability to stream xCloud games to your television and buying the controller,” Spencer continued. 

The Xbox boss also makes mention of an "Xbox Game Pass Platinum," which would include access to new Xbox devices as they come out. With that in mind, it's easy to imagine Microsoft offering a cheap streaming dongle to folks subscribed to a certain tier of Game Pass.

An Xbox streaming stick would fit nicely into Microsoft's overall strategy of bringing Xbox games to as many people as possible. In addition to releasing its games on Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, Microsoft also allows Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to stream more than 100 games to their Android phones for $15 a month. The Game Pass library includes access to first-party games like Gears 5 and Halo: The Master Chief Collection, as well as popular third-party titles like Doom Eternal and Destiny 2. 

Microsoft is also working to bring Xbox game streaming to iOS, via a special web-based app that gets around Apple's App Store restrictions on game streaming services. 

That leaves TVs as the one major place where you currently can't stream Xbox games to. While Microsoft has hinted that game streaming could come to Xbox and PC, an affordable streaming dongle in the vein of a Roku Streaming Stick or Chromecast with Google TV could provide yet another entry point into the company's ecosystem of games. 

Michael Andronico

Mike Andronico is Senior Writer at CNNUnderscored. He was formerly Managing Editor at Tom's Guide, where he wrote extensively on gaming, as well as running the show on the news front. When not at work, you can usually catch him playing Street Fighter, devouring Twitch streams and trying to convince people that Hawkeye is the best Avenger.