Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming is now available for Meta Quest 2, 3, and Pro headsets.
I knew it was coming and it was just one of a dozen excuses I used to justify buying a new Meta Quest 3 at launch. Late last week, whilst gathering a bit more material for my long in gestation Meta Quest 3 review, I came across the freshly released Xbox Cloud Gaming App in the Meta Quest store.
For those that have not yet come across Xbox Cloud Gaming, it’s a way of playing Xbox games via a streaming service not unlike Netflix. Players only need an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription and a compatible device. This can be anything from a mobile phone to a low-end laptop. For Windows and Android devices, if you can stream Netflix to it, you can usually use the Xbox Cloud Gaming App. Some Samsung TVs also come with Xbox Cloud Gaming. That’s over 400 games for NZ$21.95 or AUD$18.95 a month.
This is a massive boost for Meta Quest gamers. Apart from only needing a monthly subscription rather than having to buy an Xbox, you also don’t need to wait to download the software or local storage to install it. There are some prerequisites, however. Microsoft advises that you’ll need a decent Internet connection of at least 20Mbps.
You’ll also need a compatible controller, a list of which you can easily find on the Xbox website. I’d recommend an Xbox Controller as it best corresponds to the game, but there are loads of others to choose from.
Starting the Xbox Cloud Gaming App on the Meta Quest 3 immersed me in an Xbox-themed room. As an existing Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, I just had to enter my Xbox credentials and I was in. New players will need to set up a Game Pass Ultimate Subscription before they can access the games.
There are a few options for your virtual reality Xbox play space. The size of the screen can be adjusted from small, medium, large, and extra-large. In the huge VR play space, extra-large is probably the best size. As nice as the default Xbox Cloud Gaming VR room is, one of the great things about Meta Quest 3 is its colour passthrough camera, which can be activated whilst running the Cloud Gaming app. This allows you to play Xbox games on a floating screen and remain present in your home.
I was a little concerned about the quality of my network connection but this proved not to be a problem. Saying that a subsequent session did need me to shut down some updates being downloaded on another machine before I could play with a decent framerate. Providing you meet the 20Mbps requirement, though, Microsoft has pretty much ironed out any issues in their Cloud Gaming service.
As well as opening up the Xbox Cloud Gaming library to Meta Quest owners, it provides an additional device for family gaming without the need for another screen. We had one player on the lounge TV with an Xbox Series X, another in the kid’s playroom on my old Xbox One, and me sitting there wearing the Quest 3. We could all play Sea of Thieves on big screens within earshot of each other. If with needed an extra crew member we could always add another via laptop.
I also played Forza Horizon 5, a game that needs precise controls, with no problems. Similarly, Microsoft Flight Simulator had me taking in the views over Auckland with no trouble, with Dragon Gaiden: The Man Who Erased His Name, allowing me to beat up yakuza with pixel-perfect accuracy.
The image quality is very good considering that is being streamed via the Internet from Microsoft’s servers. It’s not as crisp as a 4K TV screen, but it is still very clear. Of course, the quality of your Internet connection will determine your experience.
For Meta Quest owners who are existing subscribers of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, this is a great free addition to the device. Other Quest owners who have a decent Internet connection and a compatible controller really ought to give it a go. There is usually a good 14-day trial deal so see if it is for you.