Microsoft could launch a dedicated iPhone app store for Xbox cloud gaming in 2024

After the EU’s new rules come into force in March 2024, Microsoft will have legal ground to launch a new iPhone app store dedicated to Xbox games.

iPhone displaying the Xbox cloud gaming logo on a gradient green background
Xbox cloud gaming is getting a dedicated app store on iOS | Image: Christian Zibreg/iDB
  • What’s happening? The Windplanss planning to bring Xbox games to Apple devices via a custom app store as soon as EU rules come into effect.
  • Why care? Microsoft’s store could be the first non-Apple app store on your iPhone, simplifying Xbox cloud gaming on Apple hardware
  • What to do? See how Xbox cloud gaming works on iOS by signing in with your Microsoft account using Safari on your Apple device at

Microsoft’s iPhone app store for Xbox games due in 2024

The Financial Times reports that Microsoft is preparing to launch a new iPhone dedicated to Xbox cloud gaming as soon as next year, provided its problematic $75bn acquisition of Call of Duty developer Activision Blizzard is cleared by regulators. The store would also launch on Android devices.

Microsoft Gaming chief Phil Spencer told the financial newspaper that his company wants to offer Xbox games across any screen where somebody would want to play.

“Today, we can’t do that on mobile devices but we want to build towards a world that we think will be coming where those devices are opened up,” he said in a nod at changes coming to the App Store in 2024.

“The Digital Markets Act that’s coming—those are the kinds of things that we are planning for,” he said. “I think it’s a huge opportunity.”

Alternative app stores on iPhone

Apple currently requires that any company offering cloud games on its hardware list each individual game on the App Store. In other words, individual games cannot be purchased from a storefront within native apps.

Under the rules, cloud-gaming services hosting games aren’t allowed on the iOS and iPadOS platforms. Microsoft has bypassed Apple’s requirements by bringing Xbox cloud gaming to the Safari browser. However, this is a clunky solution compared to a dedicated app store for Xbox games which results in lower performance.

But how’s this possible?

Microsoft, Nvidia, Steam and other games publishers have tried and failed to bring their gaming services to Apple’s hardware in a satisfactory way due to Apple’s tight regulation regarding App Store submissions. That will change in March 2014, when the European Union’s Digital Markets Act will be enacted.

The EU ruling will force Apple to permit alternative app stores and software sideloading on devices sold within the European Union, with the expectation that lawmakers in the United States would soon pass similar legislation.