The Surface Duo by Microsoft might be a little underwhelming in terms of specs. However, that does not mean Microsoft is ready to give up on it just yet. As of today, the device is getting custom touch controls for Xbox Game Pass via the Xbox Cloud Gaming beta app. This means you no longer need a physical controller hooked up to play games via the popular subscription service.
More than 50 games are available via Xbox Game Pass supporting these touch controls. At least according to Microsoft. This functionality allows you to turn one of the screens into a controller. Touch-enabled games include Sea of Thieves, Gears 5, Dragon Quest XI, Slay the Spire, and a lot more.
A very cool update goes live for #SurfaceDuo customers today! Working with @Xbox we've put touch controls on to the second screen. More than 50 games are available to play with touch for @xboxGamePass Ultimate Members. pic.twitter.com/ZPIqQZXxS4
— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) May 24, 2021
A Portable Xbox
While it’s not quite up to par with the Nintendo Switch or PS Vita, it might be the closest thing to a portable Xbox we’ll ever get. At least without using any additional game controller accessories or streaming devices. Given that emulators on the Duo have had custom controls since launch, it’s about time as well.
There are two versions of the Xbox touch controls for the Surface Duo. The compose mode is similar to the Nintendo DS where one screen shows controls and the other shows the game. The spanned mode spreads the image across both screens in either orientation.
There are some problems with the Surface Duo though. Despite the excellent hardware and beautiful form factor, it does suffer from unoptimized software and a poor camera (of which there’s only one). Microsoft did slash the price down from $1400 to $1000 in February, which is a fair bit more attractive. Some retailers even put it on sale for as low as $600.
While a Surface Duo 2 might not be on the horizon just yet, this seems like a good excuse to pick one up if you want a secondary device in addition to your phone for playing games. Given the number of games available via Xbox Game Pass, this could easily turn your Surface Duo into a portable Xbox.
What are your thoughts? Do you think the Surface Duo makes a decent “portable Xbox”? Let us know in the comments!