Project xCloud, Microsoft's streaming service for Xbox and PC games, will officially launch through Game Pass Ultimate for Android devices on September 15. It looks like it won't be launching for iOS devices any time soon, though, and now we have a justification from Apple itself as to why Game Pass and xCloud can't come to iPhones or iPads as it stands.
In a statement given to Business Insider, an Apple spokesperson explains that to ensure the iOS App Store remains "a safe and trusted place," every submitted app is reviewed against a set of guidelines. The spokesperson goes on to say that the rules in place mean "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[.]" Microsoft didn't do that.
While the now-concluded test of xCloud on iOS was not subject to the App Store's policies for public releases, this may explain why it was limited to just The Master Chief Collection. While the xCloud preview on Android saw its library expand with titles like Destiny 2 and Civilization 6 over time, iOS testers only had Halo to play.
For xCloud's official launch next month, Microsoft plans to start over 100 supported Xbox titles. On top of whatever the added costs in time and money would be to submit each title for review, having an outside approval process to contend with on a game-by-game basis could lead to a situation where Apple declines approval for a particular title. Any disparity in what's available on different platforms would also undermine one of the core appeals of xCloud: being able to pick up progress from a title on PC or Xbox with whatever mobile device you have handy.
Microsoft tells Business Insider that it has no further information to share regarding xCloud on iOS at the moment, but reiterates that it wants to "scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass" over time. For now, it seems that one of xCloud's biggest selling points—the large variety of Game Pass titles on offer—is what Apple's refusing to budge on when it comes to its strict App Store policies.