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Blame Apple for Microsoft’s Abrupt Xbox Game Pass No-Show

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:20 PM
Thomas Bardwell
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:20 PM
  • Microsoft’s Project xCloud cloud gaming service launches Sept. 15 bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate for Android users.
  • The company has confirmed that it is ending support for iOS devices due to Apple’s strict App Store policies.
  • Microsoft says Apple is the only platform to deny users access to cloud gaming services.

This week, Microsoft announced that its cloud gaming service Project xCloud launches officially on Sept. 15  free as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.

For roughly $15 a month, members can play more than 100 games on their Android devices beamed through the company’s extensive worldwide network of Azure data centers. Glaringly absent from the press release was any mention of Apple devices and Project xCloud running on iOS.

Project xCloud
Project xCloud available bundled with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate from Sept. 15. | Source: Xbox/Microsoft

Despite launching iOS testing back in February of this year, Microsoft confirmed in a statement to The Verge that is was ending all Project xCloud support for iOS devices  effective immediately.

‘Our Project xCloud preview TestFlight period has ended on iOS and we are focused on delivering cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to Android customers beginning September 15. It’s our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices.

In February, Microsoft launched iOS testing but warned the experience may ‘look and feel different’ to Android , citing the need to comply with App Store policies. The TestFlight restricted players to Halo: The Master Chief Collection and only allowed 10,000 testers.

App Store Policies Halt Microsoft’s Project xCloud Ambitions

It now appears that those stringent policies forced xCloud’s sudden iOS exit. In a statement provided to CNET, Microsoft makes no qualms about placing the blame on Apple :

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.

Project xCloud
No xCloud for iOS users for the time being. | Source: Xbox/Microsoft

The news echoes a statement published by Apple yesterday , which noted that App Store policies require developers to submit games individually for review and strict rules surrounding remote network connections crucial to streaming services. 

”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.”

As it stands, iOS users will be left out. It’s unclear whether Microsoft can find a suitable way to navigate Apple’s notoriously restrictive policies, which have seen both Google Stadia and Steam Link struggle to launch on Apple devices .