Apple Store Policies Make xCloud An Android Exclusive By Default
Though Microsoft ran an iOS version of their xCloud game streaming service through its paces with 10,000 users via the TestFlight testing service, the tech giant revealed today to The Verge that it has closed the testing and will not be proceeding with a final release of the app on Apple’s hardware.
Getting approval to have cloud gaming via the Game Pass app was always a longshot on Apple’s hardware, due to the protectionist policies that have been a hallmark of their storefront since its inception. Apple has been reluctant, to put it mildly, to entertain the idea of having a storefront within approved apps – a storefront that would bypass Apple’s 30% cut of any sales made.
While the Game Pass-driven cloud streaming service is primarily subscription based, gamers can choose to buy downloadable content (DLC) like skins and expansions for the games they’re streaming, as well as buy the game to keep if they want to keep playing when it leaves the service’s library. Apple not being given a cut of those sales was never going to happen from their perspective, and was equally unlikely from Microsoft’s side of the table.
Even with all that I’m a bit surprised to see this result, if I’m being honest. I had fully expected to see a compromise reached where Microsoft would create an iOS version that was streaming only, with no ability to purchase content, or granting Apple a partial cut of the sales – 10-15% instead of the default 30% cut.
It will be interesting to see what the reaction is from Apple users, who lose out on a promising game streaming service that has – even in beta – already seen solid support from publishers. I doubt this would be enough to sway anyone from making the switch over to Android on its own, but it’s entirely possible this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back for some longtime users.
I expect we haven’t heard the last of Game Pass cloud streaming on iOS, but don’t expect to hear anything soon.