Microsoft is reportedly a step closer to releasing a streaming stick that could play Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games on any device with an HDMI port and internet connection.
There have long been rumors that the company has been working on such a device, which would enable those without a console or other compatible hardware to still play the best Xbox Series X games.
Indeed, development of the device is thought to have been going since at least 2021, when it was mentioned in passing during an E3 panel discussion. And now we have a release window — albeit a broad one.
GamesBeat reports that the streaming stick will arrive in the next 12 months, and that it will come in the form of either an Amazon Fire TV-style stick, or a Google Chromecast-like puck that clips into a spare HDMI port on your TV or monitor.
As well as supporting games via an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, the streaming device will reportedly also let owners access TV and movies, presumably via apps from the usual suspects of Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus and so on.
Obviously this will involve a modest outlay (probably around $50, judging by the price of the best streaming devices), but owners of Samsung TVs may be able to skip this entirely. The report adds that Microsoft is working closely with its partners at Samsung to develop an Xbox streaming app for the company’s televisions, and this is also anticipated within the next 12 months.
A year-long window obviously takes us through to 2023, but there’s a chance something will land far sooner than that. Earlier this year, the XboxEra podcast tipped unspecified new Xbox hardware as coming this year and at the time we considered a streaming stick the most likely of the possibilities.
While a dedicated streaming stick might be of little interest to hardcore Xbox fans who already have dedicated hardware to play games locally, this could be a big development for the industry as a whole. There are plenty of people who could be gamers, but who are averse to dropping hundreds of dollars on console hardware. Letting them play the same games as those with their own Xboxes taps into a whole new market.
In other words, even those with an Xbox Series X or Xbox Series S should be pleased about this development. A new market of Game Pass Ultimate subscribers should mean bigger budgets and, ultimately, more games for all. Here’s hoping that the hardware is every bit as transformational as the first Chromecast was when it emerged in 2013.