Trending: Testing Microsoft’s Project xCloud: New streaming service feels like a magic trick
(Xbox Photo)

Microsoft is bundling its Game Pass subscription service with its Xbox Live Gold membership, the latest move in the company’s push toward a gaming future that relies less on discs and consoles and leans more on all digital services.

Rumors of the bundled services percolated earlier this month, and today Microsoft announced the new Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for $14.99 per month. That’s $5 per month less than the two services cost on their own.

Xbox Insiders are testing Game Pass Ultimate now, and it will launch later this year in current Game Pass markets. With more than 100 games to choose from on Game Pass, Microsoft says the new service will create the “most-advanced multiplayer network.”

Digital gaming is quickly becoming the cornerstone of Xbox strategy as Microsoft today also announced its first-ever console without a disc drive built in. The $250 Xbox One S All-Digital Edition is $50 cheaper than current Xbox One S models.

Last month, Microsoft announced plans to extend Xbox Live, bringing the online community to iOS and Android devices. Prior to the announcement, rumors percolated that the expansion would also include Nintendo Switch, but the company stayed mum about Xbox Live compatibility with the smash hit console.

Microsoft’s gaming strategy focuses on reaching gamers on a variety of devices. That includes Xbox consoles and Windows PCs, but also smartphones, and maybe someday, rival consoles. It is leaning on its cloud prowess to make that goal a reality.

Perhaps the most ambitious part of the move is a new service that will let users play powerful Xbox games on smartphones. The Project xCloud game streaming service is expected to begin public trials later this year.

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