Microsoft ends testing for xCloud on iOS; says Apple "treats gaming apps differently"

By Heidi Nicholas,
Just days after the news that Project xCloud will be available for Android devices in 22 countries, and that Xbox Game Pass will be available from the Samsung Galaxy Store, Microsoft has ended preview testing for xCloud on iOS. Microsoft says Apple "treats gaming apps differently" and that it "stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass."

Xbox Game Pass

Apple shared a statement with Business Insider as to why Project xCloud won't be available on Apple devices:
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.
Apple cites the inability to review games individually as the obstacle to having xCloud and Xbox Game Pass on its devices. However, Microsoft addressed this in a statement to The Verge:
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.
Project xCloud is set to launch on September 15th for Android devices. Microsoft also recently announced that it had expanded its partnership with Samsung: from the same date, players will be able to access Xbox Game Pass on the Samsung Galaxy Store, while Samsung is also set to offer a Gaming Bundle which ties three months of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate in with the new Galaxy Note20.

In contrast, the language in both Apple and Microsoft's recent statements regarding each other is very decisive: Apple says gaming services can launch on the App Store "as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers", while Microsoft says Apple "stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers" from cloud gaming and Xbox Game Pass, and that it "treats gaming apps differently." Although Microsoft remains "committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform", it does not yet "have a path to bring" its vision "to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store."

In other words, while Android devices will support the service from September, the future for xCloud on Apple devices looks uncertain.

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Heidi Nicholas
Written by Heidi Nicholas
Hey, I'm Heidi! I've been a staff writer for TrueAchievements and TrueTrophies since 2019. I love open-worlders, RPGs, and fantasy games, am obsessed with tea, and forever loyal to The Witcher 3 and Red Dead 2.