Microsoft's xCloud game streaming will be supported by Steam Deck

Xbox CEO Phil Spencer confirmed that the Steam Deck will be able to run Microsoft's xCloud game streaming service. Microsoft's xCloud, which is currently in beta with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, allows users to play over a hundred console games on their PCs over the Internet without the need for console-level hardware. Spencer didn't elaborate on how this would work, but given that the Steam Deck is essentially a miniature computer, it's not out of the realm of possibility.

“Was [at Valve] this week talking [with chief operating officer] Scott [Lynch], [longtime executive] Erik [Johnson], [and co-founder and president] Gabe [Newell] about Steam Deck,” Spencer tweeted on Friday in the US. “After having mine most of the week, I can say it's a really nice device. Games with me on the go, screen size, controls all great. Playing Halo and Age [of Empires] feels good, xCloud works well. Congrats [to the Steam Deck] team.”

Microsoft's xCloud is the first game streaming service to be confirmed for support on the upcoming Steam Deck, which is now accepting reservations and will begin shipping in December. This also expands the Steam Deck's capabilities, which were previously limited by its hardware potential. With xCloud support, the Steam Deck will be able to run more demanding games like Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. It's too early to say whether xCloud will support 60 frames per second on the Steam Deck, which typically supports 30 frames per second at HD resolution (its 7-inch touchscreen has a resolution of 1280 x 800).

Any HDMI to USB-C adapter, or the official Valve-made dock, can output 4K from the Steam Deck (available as a separate purchase only after the Steam Deck launches). But that's pointless because xCloud is already limited to 1080p gaming. After shifting its xCloud infrastructure from Xbox One S to Xbox Series X later in 2021, Microsoft will be able to unlock 4K capability, though it's unclear when it will start offering 4K support on game streaming to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers.

Steam Deck starts at $399 in the US, £349 in the UK, and €419 in Europe. Xbox Cloud Gaming is currently accessible via apps for Android and Windows 10, and in the browser (Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge or Safari) on iPad, iPhone, and Windows 10.