How to use the Xbox app to stream games on your Windows PC

Play console games from your desktop

XBOX Controller in front of an RGB keyboard
(Image: © TechRadar)

It was recently announced that Microsoft is updating the Xbox App to allow users to stream console games to Windows 10 computers, which is great news for gamers who don't like to be tied to one device or location. 

In fact, there are two different ways to enjoy Xbox titles away from the console: you can stream them directly from your home console using a network connection or you can utilize cloud gaming on supported devices. 

You'll need to be a Xbox Game Pass Ultimate member to use the Xbox Cloud Streaming, but no membership is required for Remote Play. The feature is still being rolled out for Windows 10 devices so only 22 countries currently have access. Thankfully you can enjoy using it with not just the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S consoles, but also older Xbox One consoles.

There are a few things you'll need to make this work, such as a compatible controller and a decent network connection, but if you have those boxes ticked then there's nothing stopping you from connecting your old laptop to the service and streaming games outside on a nice day, or chilling out in another room if someone wants to commandeer the family TV.

Microsoft stated alongside the announcement: “This marks the first time we’ve enabled Xbox Remote Play on PC for Xbox Series X|S owners. We’ve also made additional upgrades from previous iterations of Remote Play, such as general stability updates, allowing for games to stream at 1080p up to 60fps, and adding the ability to play select Xbox 360 and Xbox Original games, which has been one of the most highly-requested features.”

Hardware and network requirements

girl gaming on a laptop

(Image credit: Ninma)

According the Microsoft's Remote Play webpage, you'll need the following to use the service:

  • An Xbox Series X / S / One console (game streaming must be enabled in Settings)
  • A Windows 10 PC with at least 2GB of RAM and 1.5 GHz CPU or faster
  • Compatible Xbox Controller (mouse and keyboard and touch are currently not supported for remote play gaming)
  • The Xbox app (opens in new tab) for PC
  • A Microsoft account with an Xbox profile
  • An internet connection of at least 7-10 Mbps. Wired is preferred, but wireless is also achievable for both 5 GHz and 2.4 GHz with varying results

Unlike PlayStation 4’s Remote Play and PS Now, Microsoft's streaming feature requires your Xbox console and PC  to be on the same network, so you won't be able to crack your laptop out at work and stream games from the Xbox Series X you have sitting at home.

It's also likely that you already have the Xbox app installed on your Windows 10 PC or laptop if it's a recently released product, but make sure you're signed on with the same Microsoft account that you use for your console.

How to stream games from your Xbox to your Windows PC

Xbox App Remote Play on Windows 10 laptop

(Image credit: Microsoft)

Set up remote play on your console:

  • Press the Xbox button on your controller to open the guide
  • Go to Profile & system > Settings > Devices & connections > Remote features
  • Select the Enable remote features checkbox
  • Under Power mode, select Instant-on

Now set up remote play on your Windows 10 desktop PC or laptop:

  • Open the Xbox app for PC
  • Press the Consoles icon next to the search box
  • Select the console you want to connect to

Microsoft also advises the following for the best possible Remote Play experience:

  • It’s a good idea to save frequently while playing remotely. If you get disconnected from your console, you could lose progress in your game
  • If you close the app or do something else on your phone after starting your remote play session, you won't immediately lose your progress. After a period of time, your console will turn off and go to sleep. You can reconnect your session until the console turns off
  • Only one person at a time can play remotely, even if others are set up to connect remotely or locally
  • Microsoft Store and in-game purchases, and backward compatibility are disabled during remote play with the Xbox mobile apps
  • Currently, external applications on your console like Edge and Hulu are blocked while using remote play

If you're looking to access cloud gaming then open the Xbox App, click the “cloud gaming” button, and select from any of the available games in your Xbox Game Pass library. You'll need to be an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate member to access cloud gaming, however.

For games located on your home console, you'll find that your device mirrors the homepage of your Xbox when you've linked to two devices so you can jump right back into your last played titles or head into your available library.

An official Xbox Wireless Controller is recommended, and we have a guide on how to connect your Xbox Series X controller to your PC, and for older hardware, we also go through how to connect your Xbox One controller. You should also be able to use a wired controller as Windows 10 shouldn't have any issues recognizing official Microsoft hardware but we're unable to test this ourselves as we don't have a wired controller to hand.

Jess is a former TechRadar Computing writer, where she covered all aspects of Mac and PC hardware, including PC gaming and peripherals. She has been interviewed as an industry expert for the BBC, and while her educational background was in prosthetics and model-making, her true love is in tech and she has built numerous desktop computers over the last 10 years for gaming and content creation. Jess is now a journalist at The Verge.