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Microsoft partners with Amazon to bring Game Pass cloud gaming to Fire TV Sticks

Editor’s take: Having the option to play without a console is an attractive incentive for subscribing to a gaming service. However, while cloud gaming has improved substantially in the last several years, the platform is still not ready to become the medium of choice for gamers. It has too many downsides, mainly regarding latency and stability.

Microsoft partnered with Amazon to bring the Xbox gaming app to two Fire TV devices. The move allows Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers to play Xbox games on their TVs via the cloud without needing a console. Beginning in July, the Xbox app will be compatible with last year’s 4K and the 4K Max Fire TV Sticks. Users will also need a Bluetooth-compatible controller, like Amazon’s Luna gamepad.

The compatible Fire TV Sticks start at $49.99, gamepads go for about $30, and a month of Game Pass Ultimate costs $16.99. While not cheap, this setup is considerably less expensive than purchasing an Xbox console. Unfortunately, not all Game Pass titles are available for streaming. Popular games like Starfield, Sea of Thieves, Palworld, and Halo Infinite’s campaign mode are streamable, but the entire Game Pass library isn’t.

Amazon leaned heavily into several games in the Fallout series. Fallout 3, 4, New Vegas, and 76 are available for cloud gaming via Game Pass. Microsoft and Amazon realize the potential of these titles thanks to the recent surge of interest in Fallout, spurred by the phenomenal success of the live-action TV show that debuted in April on Amazon Prime.

The unexpected popularity of the series caught both Amazon and Microsoft off guard, as there was minimal cross-promotion at launch. The show’s popularity led to an amusing situation in mid-April when Fallout 4 and Fallout 76 fell into the top 25 best-sellers on the PlayStation Store, resulting in Microsoft having more first-party games in PlayStation’s top 25 than Sony.

This scenario illustrates how Microsoft and Xbox have redefined their competition in 2024. Rather than viewing platforms like PlayStation 5 and Amazon’s media ecosystem as rivals, they see them as opportunities. The traditional concept of a console war has evolved, with much of the competition now occurring in less direct ways.

The collaboration between Microsoft and Amazon to bring Xbox cloud gaming to Fire TV devices represents a significant shift in gaming accessibility and strategy. By leveraging cloud technology and expanding the reach of Game Pass, Microsoft is positioning itself to dominate in a landscape where traditional console competition is less relevant.

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