This week's announcement around the official debut for Project xCloud and Xbox Game Pass on Android devices quickly raised questions about what's happening with support for iOS. Microsoft and Apple have volleyed statements back and forth since, and now the former is saying, in no ambiguous terms, that Apple is working to prevent xCloud's launch on iOS.
First, a brief recap: on September 15, xCloud will enter a public beta for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers, letting them stream Game Pass titles to compatible Android devices. Microsoft also ran a closed test for xCloud on iOS that has since ended. Initially, Microsoft didn't point a finger squarely at Apple, but after Apple released a statement yesterday saying that its App Store policies would mean "submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search," Microsoft fired back.
In a statement provided to Gizmodo, Microsoft reiterates its commitment to putting xCloud on iOS while accusing Apple of selectively enforcing its App Store policies to disadvantage gaming apps:
Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store. Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content. All games available in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated for content by independent industry ratings bodies such as the ESRB and regional equivalents. We are committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform.
Google Stadia, notably, also lacks an app for streaming games on iOS. Microsoft's fiery response comes after a number of other large companies—including Netflix, Spotify, and Epic Games—have hiked in-app prices or disabled subscription functions due to Apple's 30% App Store commission, which has led to an antitrust case in the US. Two antitrust investigations regarding the App Store and Apple Pay are also underway in Europe.
As it stands, we're no closer to seeing xCloud and Game Pass on iOS after this exchange of statements, but it seems like Microsoft isn't willing to budge on how it wants to launch them. Apple's now facing pressure with the App Store on multiple fronts, but if xCloud and similar streaming services do take off in the next few years, Apple risks making its phones and tablets less attractive to game-playing consumers if it can't find a way to make nice.