Microsoft wants you to play Xbox games anywhere and everywhere through its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform and that includes debuting an entirely new form factor.
The company has revealed a new feature for its Surface Duo dual-screened smartphone that’ll enable gamers to play Xbox games via the cloud in portrait mode. It arrives via the Xbox Game Pass app for Android.
The top half of the display can be used to view the game in landscape, while the bottom half will feature the touch controls in their own portion of the display. Microsoft calls this “Compose Mode” and early screenshots show the experiences is a lot like the handheld Xbox fans have dreamed of for decades.
“We’ve updated and improved the experience on Surface Duo devices so you can fully enjoy Game Pass on both screens. Bonus screen!” Microsoft says in the app listing.
While touchscreen controls for Xbox games are far from ideal – despite Microsoft’s best efforts to optimise the titles – this might be one of the best use-cases for the Surface Duo yet. Especially given gamers who use their Android phone for touchscreen games usually have to content with pawing the gaming area.
A number of top games, such as Gears 5, have been optimised for the touchscreen. Others include Minecraft Dungeons, Sea of Thieves, New Super Lucky’s Tale, Streets of Rage 4 and The Walking Dead. We’re expecting some of the best Xbox Series X/S games to be added over time.
This might be a great option for those seeking a new phone and desire to play their Xbox games on the go without lugging the wireless controller around with them. The hardware itself comes from Microsoft, while the phone/tablet runs on the Android operating system bringing access to cloud gaming via the Xbox Game Pass app. Since its launch last year the dual-screen phone has been waiting for a killer app and this just might be it.
Here’s an idea of how it looks from The Verge’s Tom Warren. It doesn’t seem to be totally seamless as yet, with some issues with the menus appearing above and beyond the hinge, but overall it looks fantastic once the gaming action commences.
Will this convince you to give the Surface Duo a shot? Let us know @trustedreviews on Twitter.