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Microsoft's rumoured streaming stick for gaming is real

Microsoft's rumoured streaming stick for gaming is real
Photo Credit: Pixabay
30 May, 2022
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Cloud gaming hasn’t lived up to the hype created by Google Stadia or Xbox Cloud gaming. Microsoft is hoping to change that with a streaming device referred to as the Keystone. It would work on similar lines as the Amazon Fire Stick but will be primarily used for streaming cloud games on TVs or monitors. 

The codename Keystone recently appeared in an Xbox OS list and now a Microsoft spokesperson has confirmed in a statement to tech website Windows Central that the company is working on a low-cost device that can be connected to a TV or monitor and run cloud games. 

The spokesperson said that the recent version of Keystone is built with a different approach that would help them bring Xbox cloud games to more users. The device uses HDMI for connectivity and runs Xbox Pass. 

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“We will take our learnings and refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future,” Microsoft said. 

The plan to develop a plug-n-play streaming device for cloud gaming was announced by Microsoft’s head of gaming experiences and platform Liz Hamren last June at the E3 gaming expo. Hamren said that the company is in talks with TV makers to embed an app on TVs. 

Though there is no clear timeline for when Microsoft would launch the device, the confirmation alone would go a long way in building confidence among potential gamers who want to play console games but do not want to spend on Xbox consoles. A streaming device similar to Fire Stick might boost the quality of game streaming and is also likely to see a wider adoption due to its compact plug-n-play design and low cost. 

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Launched in 2020, Xbox Cloud Gaming had a rocky start marred by glitches and technical issues. However, Microsoft has managed to iron out many issues. Games on Xbox Cloud Gaming have been streamed by 10 million players in 26 countries, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said at the 2022 Build conference.  

Its closest rival Google Stadia had a much better start but it has struggled to onboard gamers and exciting gaming titles. It is said to have under 1 million monthly active users. 

Google hasn’t any plans to launch a standalone streaming device. However, it has made several improvements to lift the gaming experience. For instance, users of touchscreen devices such as tablets and smartphones can play games on Stadia without a controller. Google has also improved the library of games on Stadia and is planning to add over 100 new games to it this year. 

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Despite these issues, market research firms have estimated a bright future for cloud gaming platforms. According to Newzoo, cloud gaming platforms had 21.7 million paying users in 2021 who spent $1.5 billion. The number of paying users is expected to grow to 58.6 million by 2024, while the amount spent is expected to reach $6.3 billion.