Microsoft’s “Project xCloud” streaming game service that pairs with its Xbox Game Pass won’t be available on iPhone and iPad when it launches this September, and Apple’s App Store restrictions are to blame.
Xbox Game Pass and its accompanying xCloud streaming feature offer access to hundreds of games that can be streamed to mobile devices, and Apple says that because it can’t review each game available through Game Pass, it can’t be allowed on the App Store.
In a statement to Business Insider, an Apple spokesperson said that the restrictions are designed to protect consumers and provide a level playing field to developers.
“The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers.”
“Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.”
Project xCloud, a new arm of the Xbox Game Pass feature that lets users download games to a PC or Xbox, will provide streaming access to more than 100 games for $15 a month, with games able to be played on smartphones and tablets. It’s designed to be like Netflix for games.
In a statement, a Microsoft spokesperson said that the company wants to make Game Pass available on all devices, but there’s no info on iOS at this time.
“It’s our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices, but we have nothing further to share at this time regarding iOS.”
Microsoft has known that it would be difficult to launch the streaming gaming service on iOS since beta testing began. When the TestFlight version of the app was released for iOS users, Microsoft said that the preview experience would “look and feel different” on iOS because of Apple’s limitations. iPhone and iPad users testing the feature could only stream games from the cloud and not from an Xbox console, eliminating the pick up and play on any device option.
Microsoft was also only able to make one game available on TestFlight, “Halo: The Master Chief Collection” because Apple’s App Store rules require games in a game subscription to be owned or licensed by the developer.
Google offers a similar streaming gaming service called Google Stadia, which Apple has not allowed on the App Store. Stadia can be accessed on Android devices, but not on iPhones and iPads. The same goes for Nvidia’s streaming gaming service, GeForce Now.
Valve also ran into trouble when attempting to make Steam Link available on iPhones and iPads, with Apple rejecting the app after it was submitted for review.
Valve was ultimately able to launch the app by removing the ability to purchase apps from within the Steam Link store, which may have led Apple to ultimately approve the app.
Steam Link is designed to allow you to play your own Steam games on an iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, streaming from a Mac or PC, so it is somewhat different than Google Stadia and Project xCloud, services that make a catalog of games available.