How to Play Xbox Game Pass Games on Macby@kimikadze
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How to Play Xbox Game Pass Games on Mac

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Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service from Microsoft that gives you access to a growing library of Xbox, PC, and cloud games. With so many games to choose from and a multitude of day-one exclusives, it is arguably the best value for video game enthusiasts. Another option is to use Parallels Desktop, a virtual machine program that allows you to run Windows and hence, plenty of PC games on your MacBook. Each option has its pros, cons, and technical considerations, which we'll cover in the upcoming sections.

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Xbox Game Pass is a subscription service from Microsoft that gives you access to a growing library of Xbox, PC, and cloud games. With so many games to choose from and a multitude of day-one exclusives, Xbox Game Pass is arguably the best value for video game enthusiasts.


For a long time, Apple users haven’t been able to join in the fun (at least, not without cumbersome workarounds)–until recently. The good news is it is now possible to seamlessly play Xbox Game Pass games on Mac, largely thanks to the cloud streaming technology offered by Microsoft.


However, cloud gaming is not the only way to enjoy Xbox games on a MacBook. Another option is to use Parallels Desktop, a virtual machine program that allows you to run Windows and hence, plenty of PC games on your MacBook.


In this article, we will look into these two options for playing Xbox Game Pass games on MacBook: cloud gaming and Parallels Desktop. Each option has its pros, cons, and technical considerations, which we'll cover in the upcoming sections.

Table of Contents

  1. Playing Xbox Game Pass on Mac with Cloud Gaming

    1. Xbox Game Pass Subscription
    2. Do You Need a Controller?
    3. Starting a Game
    4. Pros and Cons of Using Xbox Game Pass on Mac via Cloud Gaming
  2. Playing Xbox Game Pass on Mac with Parallels

    1. Parallels Subscription
    2. Installing Windows on Your Mac Using Parallels Desktop
    3. Setting Up the Controller
    4. Installing Xbox Game Pass App for PC
    5. Playing Games
    6. Can You Play Xbox Game Pass on Mac with M1 Chip?
    7. Pros and Cons of Using Xbox Game Pass on Mac via Parallels Desktop
  3. Final Thoughts on Using Xbox Game Pass on Mac

Playing Xbox Game Pass on Mac with Cloud Gaming

Cloud gaming is the simplest way to enjoy Xbox Game Pass on Mac and the one that requires a minimal setup.

Xbox Game Pass Subscription

To access Xbox Game Pass via cloud gaming, you will need a Game Pass Ultimate subscription, so make sure to buy one or upgrade your existing Game Pass subscription. The Ultimate subscription will cost you a couple of dollars more than a regular one, but it offers additional games and allows you to use Game Pass on Xbox, PC, or the cloud.

Do You Need a Controller?

Yes, you will need a game controller. Most Xbox cloud library games require a dedicated controller, which you may connect to your MacBook via Bluetooth. Although there are plenty of controllers on the market, the best way to enjoy Xbox games is by using an Xbox Wireless Controller.


To pair a wireless controller with your MacBook:

  1. Go to Bluetooth preferences on your Mac (accessible from the Menu Bar).
  2. Power up the controller and long-press the Bluetooth pairing button on the top side of the controller.
  3. The controller will then appear in your Mac Bluetooth menu list of available devices. You can pair it with your Mac by simply clicking Connect.

Starting a Game

Once the subscription is settled, do the following:

  1. On your MacBook, open Google Chrome (see the list of supported browsers for different devices) and go to Xbox.com/play. Sign in with your Microsoft account.

  2. You will then be taken to the Home page of Cloud Gaming, which looks similar to the one below.


image

Feel free to scroll around the page to check the cloud library. As you will see, the number of games is enormous and almost wholly matches the offering on the console.

  1. Once you set your eyes on a game you want to play, click on the game tile. You will be redirected to the game’s home page, where you should click Play to start the game.


image

  1. That’s practically it! You can now enjoy the game as if you were playing on your console or a PC.

  2. To exit the game, click the Menu icon in the left upper corner of the screen and then the three dots where the Quit Game is located.


image

This is also where you can mute/unmute yourself if you’re playing with friends.

Pros and Cons of Using Xbox Game Pass on Mac via Cloud Gaming

One of the most significant advantages of Xbox Cloud Gaming is that it can be played not only from Xbox or PC but practically from any device with a browser and Internet, including a MacBook. And this comes without sacrificing the quality of the offering, as the cloud game library is constantly growing, so you don’t have to worry that you will run out of titles to stream.


At the same time, as with any streaming service, cloud gaming heavily relies on your Internet connection, and high-speed Internet is not a given for everybody. This also limits the possibility of playing Xbox Game Pass games on Mac in places with public Wi-Fi (hotels, airport lounges, etc.), as the Internet speed in such areas is often not optimal for cloud gaming.


Finally, although most of the processing happens on Microsoft servers, cloud gaming still consumes the resources of your Mac, especially RAM.  Therefore, if you are playing cloud games from a base-model Mac, close unnecessary tabs in your browser to free up some of the memory.

Playing Xbox Game Pass on Mac with Parallels

Parallels Desktop is a virtualization software that allows macOS users to run Windows OS and PC software on their Macs.


One of the biggest advantages of Parallels compared to other virtualization tools is its unparalleled (pun intended) ability to run Windows applications on a Mac efficiently. This means you can enjoy Xbox Game Pass on Mac without relying on the Internet speed (as with Xbox Cloud Gaming).


However, there are some considerations and limitations, too, so read this section before you rush to buy your Parallels license.

Parallels Subscription

Quality comes with a price, and, as you might have expected, Parallels is not free software. The price depends on the edition you buy (you can choose between standard, pro, and business) and varies between $99 and $149 a year (the prices can vary depending on your country).


However, this price only covers the subscription to the software itself and does not cover costs associated with a Windows license! To use Windows along with your Parallels subscription, you’ll either need an activation key from Microsoft or buy one using the Parallels Desktop interface.


And, of course, you will still need an Xbox Game Pass subscription. However, in this case, you can use a cheaper PC Game Pass that allows you to play games on a PC only.

Installing Windows on Your Mac Using Parallels Desktop

You can follow the official guidelines from Parallels Desktop on how to set up Windows on your Mac. The process is not complicated but, as is always with installing an OS, takes time, so bear this in mind.

Setting Up the Controller

You don’t need a controller to play Xbox Game Pass on Mac via Parallels Desktop, as you can play with a keyboard and a mouse. However, if you prefer playing with a controller, you can still use one by connecting it to your Windows virtual machine.


To set up the controller:

  1. Connect the controller to your Mac, following the steps described in the previous sections.
  2. Start the Windows virtual machine.
  3. In Windows search, type Devices & Printers.
  4. Make sure that the controller appears in the list of devices as Virtual Xbox Controller. If not, restart the controller and connect it again.

Installing Xbox Game Pass App for PC

Once the necessary setup is finished, select Search on your Windows taskbar and type Xbox. If it is not installed, download it from the Microsoft store.


Once installed, start the app and sign in with your Microsoft credentials associated with a Game Pass subscription.

Playing Games

The process of playing Xbox Game Pass on Mac using Parallels Desktop is straightforward and no different from playing games on a PC.


  1. Start the Xbox Games Pass app and find a game you want to play.
  2. Click Install OR
  3. Alternatively, click Play, if this option is available. This will allow you to play the game using the Xbox cloud gaming feature (note that this experience differs from the one described in the previous section of the article).
  4. Once the installation is over, start the game as if you would do it from a PC.

Can You Play Xbox Game Pass on Mac with M1 Chip?

With the introduction of the new M1 chip-equipped Macs, there are questions about whether you can use Xbox Game Pass on these devices. The short question is yes, but there are some limitations.


Because M1 chips do not support DirectX, some games will not run on your Windows virtual machine!


This limitation applies to all PC games that require DirectX. So if you’re planning to run Parallels on your M1 Mac in hopes of playing Age of Empires IV: Anniversary Edition, then be aware that you’re about to get disappointed and waste your time and money.

Pros and Cons of Using Xbox Game Pass on Mac via Parallels Desktop

A significant advantage of Parallels Desktop is that it allows you to run many PC games without heavy reliance on the Internet speed, compared to cloud gaming. Besides, because with a Windows virtual machine, you get a native-like experience of running a PC, you don’t have to use a game controller, as most games on a PC can be played with a mouse and a keyboard.


However, if you’re using an M1-based Mac, you will face compatibility issues, as the M1 chip is not compatible with DirectX, which many video games require. So beware of that before your invest your money and time in setting up the Parallels Windows virtual machine. You can also check the list of Parallels M1-compatible games here.


Finally, the subscription cost required to run Windows with Parallels adds to the overall costs, making this option significantly more expensive than cloud gaming.

Final Thoughts on Using Xbox Game Pass on Mac

This article covered two main ways to use Xbox Game Pass on your Mac. One using the Xbox Cloud Gaming and another via a Parallels virtual machine.


Both ways have pros and cons, and hopefully, this review helped you decide which option is better for you. If you have additional questions after reading this article, feel free to comment!



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