Xbox Cloud Gaming is actually good — but only in the Windows app

BY SHAWN FARNER

Shawn Farner

Writer and Storywriter

PUBLISHED 7 MONTHS AGO

I’ve been pretty hard on Xbox Cloud Gaming since it first launched back in 2019. In most uses cases, it very much lives up to its beta label. Sometimes games crash out or just fail to load altogether. Latency can result in an experience that’s downright unplayable — especially if you’re connecting through a web browser.

Xbox Cloud Gaming is actually good — but only in the Windows app

But I discovered something rather shocking a couple of weeks back when giving Xbox Cloud Gaming another go. In this particular instance, I launched the service via the Windows 11 Xbox app, fully expecting to be frustrated once more. Only this time, it was actually good. Not perfect, but definitely something I could envision myself using and enjoying.

Just to make sure I wasn’t imagining things, I loaded up Xbox Game Pass through Microsoft Edge. I used the same Xbox controller paired with an Xbox Wireless Adapter. I launched Destiny 2. I got terrible lag and subpar streaming quality.

I started up Xbox Game Pass through the Xbox app once more and launched the game again. Instantly better.

I’m not a developer — let me just get that out now — but I get the sense that the browser client for Xbox Cloud Gaming just isn’t very good.

I’m very curious about why the two experiences differ to such an enormous degree. Can it really be as simple as one implementation being worse than the other? I’m not sure you can simplify it to native app versus browser app, because Google Stadia is pretty close to perfect while working under the same browser constraints.

Regardless of whatever is causing the discrepancy, I hope it’s something Microsoft can fix. Xbox Cloud Gaming has a lot of promise. But its efforts on multi-platform access seem wasted if the only one that’s good and reliable is Windows.

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