Apple’s App Store rules mean game services like xCloud and Stadia aren’t allowed

Xbox One controller

Microsoft began running a beta for its Project xCloud service on iOS earlier this year, letting iPhone owners begin to test the cloud game streaming service. However, it looks like xCloud won’t be officially coming to iOS.

Apple’s App Store restrictions mean that Project xCloud will not be available on iOS when it launches on September 15. That’s because Apple can’t review every individual game that’s offered through xCloud, and the App Store rules require that for gaming services like xCloud, games must be individually submitted to Apple for review.

Here’s Apple’s full statement to Business Insider on the matter:

“The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers.

“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. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.”

With Project xCloud, Microsoft will let you stream more than 100 Xbox games from the cloud onto your Android phone or tablet. xCloud will be part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate service, which costs $15 per month.

Microsoft offered a beta test of Project xCloud on iOS earlier this year, but it only offered one game — Halo: The Master Chief Collection — while folks testing xCloud on Android had access to more than 50 games.

“It’s our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices, but we have nothing further to share at this time regarding iOS,” Microsoft said regarding xCloud’s future on iOS.

Apple’s restrictions suggest that Google Stadia won’t be allowed onto the App Store, either. Stadia lets you purchase games and stream them to your Android phone, Chrome browser, or Chromecast device.

The App Store is known for its rules and being a walled garden, so today’s news likely won’t come as a surprise to some. However, it’s definitely disappointing for gamers who own an iOS device because Microsoft’s Project xCloud is a very interesting service that is a big addition to an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, and iPhone owners won’t be able to take advantage of it.


UPDATE: Microsoft has issued a more strongly worded statement in response to today’s news, calling Apple “the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass.”

Here’s Microsoft’s full statement to Windows Central:

“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.”

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