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Xbox Game Pass coming to Android phones Sept. 15 —what you need to know

Xbox Game Pass
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Later this year, you'll be able to stream Xbox Game Pass Ultimate titles to Android devices, effectively making Microsoft's game subscription service into a compelling cloud gaming service in its own right. Now, Microsoft has revealed some salient details about the program: It will support more than 100 streaming games, it will carry over your save progress between platforms, and it will be available in 22 countries (including the U.S. and the UK) on September 15.

Information comes from an Xbox Wire blog post by Kareem Choudhry, corporate vice president of Project xCloud at Microsoft. In the post, Choudhry explains that Project xCloud will support more than 100 games from the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and that players will be able to stream these games directly to their Android phones or tablets — no Xbox console required.

Perhaps more importantly, Choudhry announced that this service will begin on September 15. It's a much more specific date than we had last month. To begin with, the Project xCloud/Game Pass Ultimate functionality will be available in only 22 countries, including Canada, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States, with support for the rest of the world coming later on. Choudhry also pointed out that, technically, the service will still be in beta at this time, so users shouldn't expect flawless performance as soon as th service launches.

Some of the supported games include Minecraft Dungeons, Destiny 2, Tell Me Why, Gears 5 and Yakuza Kiwami 2. Since there will be more than 100 games available at launch, it stands to reason that most Xbox Game Pass Ultimate titles will receive support — but probably not all of them. (Microsoft would probably have said so, since that would have been a huge advantage for prospective subscribers.)

Microsoft also highlighted a number of mobile-friendly accessories that would make playing on Android devices easy, including mobile controllers like the Razer Kishi, and headsets like the SteelSeries Arctis 1 Wireless for Xbox.

There's another piece of good news, however: All of your saved games and other forms of progress will be accessible from both the cloud and downloaded versions of each Xbox Game Pass Ultimate title. If you want to start a session of Gears 5 on your Xbox One, continue on your PC and play another level on your phone before bed, you'll have that option. In a way, this makes an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription more versatile than owning a game, at least in certain circumstances.

The launch of Xbox Game Pass on Android devices could give new phones like the Pixel 4a and Galaxy Note 20 a big advantage over upcoming Apple handsets such as the iPhone 12. While Project xCloud is currently in beta for iOS and will come to Apple devices eventually, a large library of high-profile Xbox games could be exactly what Android phones need to take on Apple Arcade, which gives iOS and Mac users a library of 100-plus premium titles for $5 a  month.

To access Project xCloud when it launches, you don't need to do anything radical; simply subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate on or before September 15. (Or afterward; this functionality is probably not going away anytime soon.) From there, you'll be able to download a mobile app (possibly the existing Xbox app) and try out Microsoft's cloud gaming service for yourself. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $15 per month, although you can sign up at much cheaper introductory rates if you've never subscribed before.