If you’ve been following the news this week, you’ll be well aware that Xbox has found themselves without a path to bring Xbox Game Pass, and by extension, Project xCloud, their cloud-streaming service which has since merged to be one with Game Pass, to iOS. This prompted Microsoft to cease testing the program on iOS entirely, leaving many to wonder where exactly the roadblock lies.
Apple’s policies, which aren’t exactly new and continue to impact other cloud-streaming systems such as Google Stadia to this day, are simple: Apple gets to manually review each and every game that goes up on their store, period. Of course, this isn’t in line with how Xbox sees Game Pass as a service, with an ever-rotating and shifting roster of games, numbered in the hundreds, it doesn’t seem feasible that Apple could review every one of them.
A statement supplied to Business Insider went into more detail about Apple’s stance:
“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.”
Of course, this prompted Microsoft to return fire with a statement of their own, criticising Apple’s stance while going to some effort to remind the public that every single game on Xbox Game Pass is a part of a carefully curated vision, classified by Microsoft themselves, as well as countless regional classification boards:
“Our testing period for the Project xCloud preview app for iOS has expired. 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. We believe that the customer should be at the heart of the gaming experience and gamers tell us they want to play, connect, and share anywhere, no matter where they are. We agree.”
When you factor in how Steam Link works for iOS, you can’t help but question whether it is truly a case of Apple valuing their policies and protecting their userbase, or whether it’s that a streaming game service such as Game Pass could loom as a threat to what they’ve managed to achieve in the short-term with Apple Arcade. With the two tech giants butting heads over the matter, it’s hard to see any resolution coming in the future.
Despite this falling out with iOS, Microsoft has moved quickly to make themselves front-of-mind for Android users, partnering with Samsung on their first-ever virtual Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event to announce they’re bringing Game Pass to the new range of flagship phones and tablets.