Last month Apple updated its guidelines for the App Store regarding game streaming with new language that effectively put a stop on standalone game streaming apps. So in an effort to work around Apple’s policies and provide access to Xbox cloud gaming on iPhones and iPads, Microsoft is turning to its one remaining option: the web.
Based on info first detailed by Business Insider, during an all-hands meeting earlier this week, Xbox chief Phil Spencer reportedly told employees Microsoft is planning to bring Xbox Game Pass Ultimate streaming (formerly known as xCloud) to iOS using a “direct browser-based solution,” with a target release slated for some time in 2021.
According to Apple’s guidelines, in order for a game streaming app to be approved on the App Store, a developer would need to create individual App Store listings for every single game available inside the app, which creates a huge burden for developers and potentially poses issues over copyright. Similar sentiments are also the reason why Microsoft decided to cut short its xCloud beta on iOS earlier in August, which later prompted Apple to update its policies and clarify its guidelines. However, Apple’s guidelines do state that in lieu of having a standalone app “there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.”
Going with a web or browser-based approach to game streaming is similar to how Google Stadia works on desktop (which uses Chrome to display game content) and Amazon’s new Luna game streaming service, which will actually be available first on iOS during its beta period, with support for Android devices to follow. It’s also the method Pax, the weed vape pen maker, is opting for after Apple kicked it and other weed apps off the App Store late last year.
That said, while using the web to get Xbox Game Pass Ultimate streaming onto iOS may be Microsoft’s most direct path to making its game streaming service available on iPhones and iPads, it seems the company isn’t abandoning its dreams for a standalone app either, with sources who spoke to The Verge claiming that it will continue development of an app that Microsoft “hopes will also eventually run on Apple’s platform.”
The bigger picture for Microsoft’s game streaming efforts is that Microsoft simply wants to make Xbox Game Pass Ultimate as accessible as possible, because according to The Verge, at the same all-hands meeting Spencer also mentioned bringing xCloud to Windows 10 PCs some time next year as well.
So even though game streaming is still relatively new concept (Google Stadia will have its first birthday in November), a lot of the biggest players in tech have already invested a ton of resources into breaking the chain between gaming and the requirement to have local hardware to run those games. And with a number of companies turning to the web to sidestep territorial online platforms, here’s hoping users will be able to choose the service that works best for them regardless of ecosystem.