Microsoft plans to bring xCloud to iOS devices via the web

Microsoft has a major focus on cloud gaming thanks to its xCloud service, but right now it’s missing out on a lot of potential customers because it’s not available for iOS.

And that’s not because xCloud hasn’t launched to the public. Microsoft launched the cloud gaming service back in September, but it’s only available for Android devices. The reason why isn’t a mystery, though: Apple. For quite some time, Apple has outright blocked cloud-based game streaming services from being available in the App Store. So when xCloud launched, it wasn’t possible for the service to find its way to Apple’s platform.

Technically speaking, Apple tweaked its App Store rules in September, so much so that it can say it now allows services like xCloud or Google’s Stadia for iOS devices. However, the steps necessary for Microsoft and Google to bring those services to the App Store are tedious at best. So the likelihood that xCloud and Stadia and other cloud game streaming services would arrive on iOS was still bleak, despite the rule changes.

But that isn’t stopping Microsoft from figuring it out.

According to Business Insider, Xbox gaming chief Phil Spencer recently told employees that Microsoft is working on bringing xCloud to the iPhone and iPad. According to the report, Spencer said, “We absolutely will end up on iOS,” and added that he “feels good” about the progress they are making: “We’ll end up on iPhones, and iPads with Game Pass.”

Microsoft wasn’t impressed with Apple’s olive branch for cloud game streaming services, but it hasn’t given up on the idea. To get there? The web. Microsoft is reportedly developing a web-based version of xCloud that would allow iOS users to stream games from the cloud, via their GamePass subscription, that bypasses the App Store altogether.

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Amazon is doing the exact same thing with its upcoming Luna cloud game streaming service it announced last month.

As far as when it will launch, Microsoft is apparently aiming for an early 2021 release window, but nothing specific just yet.

In related news

First, Microsoft is bringing game streaming to iOS devices in a slightly different way. Last month it was confirmed that Xbox is developing a new version of its iOS (and Android) app to offer direct streaming over the same internet connection between the Xbox and an iOS device. You won’t be able to stream games over the cloud with this feature, but if you need to stream a game to your iPad while you’re at home (or wherever your Xbox and your iOS device(s) share the same Wi-Fi connection), this will make that possible.

To add the overall drama, the former App Store head, Philip Shoemaker, recently said that the reason why cloud game streaming services aren’t allowed on the App Store is because of Apple’s own Apple Arcade. Shoemaker went on to say that Apple Arcade itself actually violates Apple’s own rules for games in the App Store. He also said Apple uses the App Store as a weapon against competitors.

Are you excited about this development?