Emails show Microsoft was willing to ‘turn Xbox-exclusive games into iPhone apps’

The App Store is a lucrative business. Not just for Apple, though. For the thousands of developers who host apps in the digital storefront, it can mean big earnings, too. If anything, it’s just a way to get your name, company, app, or game out there in front of a lot of eyeballs. So of course Microsoft would very much want to make sure it’s accessing every available avenue towards the digital storefront.

And according to a report today from The Verge, Microsoft was willing to go to some extreme lengths to do just that. The report is based on a variety of different private emails, indicating the company was “wheeling and dealing” in an effort to get into the App Store. That went as far as offering up originally Xbox-exclusive games as App Store apps.

These discussions apparently took place some time ago, when Microsoft was trying to work out a better way to bring its cloud streaming service, xCloud, to Apple devices like the iPhone. Originally that wasn’t really a plan, because Apple didn’t allow for cloud-based game streaming services on the App Store at all. But then Apple changed some rules and technically made it possible, but the loop holes developers had to jump through to make it happen wasn’t worthwhile.

Which is why Microsoft (and Amazon and Nvidia and others) turned to Safari. It’s not the most ideal of experiences, but it gets the job done in a pinch.

The emails show Microsoft was a willing participant in just about everything Apple was throwing at the company to make xCloud work in the App Store. That includes bringing AAA exclusive titles to the App Store as apps, with individual landing pages and what not.

Things get wild when the emails show Microsoft was even ready to agree to individual apps for every game. The one stinging point for a lot of these services, mostly the ones with a hefty library of content, and Microsoft was willing to play by Apple’s rules. The company admitted it would be difficult, and that the workload would be extreme, but the company said it could manage.

Things broke down, though, as noted by Microsoft in a statement to The Verge:

Our proposal for bringing games through individual apps was designed to comply with App Store policies. It was denied by Apple based on our request that there be a single streaming tech app to support the individual game apps, as the initial email states. Forcing each game to include our streaming tech stack proved to be unrealistic from a support and engineering perspective and would create an incredibly negative experience for customers,’ reads a statement from Xbox Cloud Gaming CVP Kareem Choudhry to The Verge.

Issues arose when it came to in-app purchases, and how Microsoft would implement them in its games. Even the ones available as individual apps. And, this is where things ultimately fell apart. An Apple spokesperson confirmed as much in the original report:

Unfortunately, Microsoft proposed a version of xCloud that was not compliant with our App Store Review Guidelines, specifically the requirement to use in-app purchase to unlock additional features or functionality within an app,’ reads a statement via Apple spokesperson Adam Dema.

Another issue was simply Apple shooting down proposals on Microsoft’s part. The company was aiming to have an inclusive experience, or try to, one that the company hoped would offer up the best possible experience for users. However, Apple apparently shot down so many ideas and efforts that Microsoft ultimately decided it wouldn’t work out.

It’s absolutely worth going to read the full article. It does sound like Microsoft really tried to make it work.