The Verge’s Tom Warren reports on the latest casualty of Apple’s App Store policies, Microsoft’s forthcoming cloud gaming system:
“Our Project xCloud preview TestFlight period has ended on iOS and we are focused on delivering cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to Android customers beginning September 15,” says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. “It’s our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices.”
This is disappointing, to say the least. I took a look at the xCloud preview back in February and found it passable, if not amazing, but I was hopeful that its continued development would see it becoming a more refined product.
That seems not to be, at least in the short term. The Verge’s piece cites a number of App Store rules that may be standing in the way of xCloud’s launch on iOS and iPadOS, including the onerous restrictions on in-app purchase and limits on “remote desktop clients.”
It’s worth noting that Microsoft also has a console streaming option that’s distinct from xCloud; instead of streaming games from the cloud, users can stream titles from the Xbox in their house to their mobile device. But unlike the cloud gaming system, that option never even made it to a beta test for iOS/iPadOS devices (though there are third-party options that do seem to allow it).
Steam Link, Valve’s app for streaming games from PC to mobile devices, did end up available on iOS and tvOS after a year-long process, so on the one hand this doesn’t bode well for Microsoft or Xbox owners—but, on the other hand, one hopes that perhaps Apple may have learned something from that process.
Game streaming’s not going anywhere, and this only adds to the mounting pressure on the App Store, for which Apple most recently found itself brought before congress to answer questions about anticompetitive behavior. Only now, it’s not just developers who are finding themselves frustrated by the strictures in place, but consumers as well.