A new report suggests Microsoft was willing to work with Apple to overcome iOS requirements and allow Xbox Cloud Gaming games to run on iPad and iPhone. However, Apple ultimately stuck to its process and Microsoft went back to the drawing board. The report comes from The Verge, which uncovered internal emails between Microsoft and Apple.
Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming – known as Project xCloud in preview – allows users to stream Xbox games to devices without needing hardware requirements. For example, the ability to play Xbox games on a smartphone. While the service is available on Android through Xbox Game Pass, it remains unavailable on Apple’s iOS.
Strap in because this is a long – but interesting – story. It starts with the Project xCloud preview, which Microsoft was testing on iOS. The company suddenly removed the preview from the platform weeks before the service was to launch fully as Xbox Cloud Gaming.
The reason behind the removal was, according to Microsoft, Apple’s strict and unfair requirements for app developers on iOS. Those terms state all developers must give Apple 30% of all revenue they make. More importantly, developers are not allowed to offer ways for users to access the freemium service in another way.
For example, via their Xbox Game Pass account on a browser. This problem became clearer during a legal battle between Apple and Epic Games after Apple banned the popular game Fortnite from the App Store. Epic allows players to also access Fortnite via their site, which was a breach of Apple’s T&Cs.
While Microsoft took the side of Epic Games, it was thought the company could not comply with Apple’s requirements so simply pulled Project xCloud. The company was then looking for other ways to deliver the service to customers on iOS, including the browser option.
However, private emails found by The Verge involving Microsoft corporate VP of business development Lori Wright and Apple executives reveals the companies were trying to find a solution.
The possibility came from Apple’s tweaks to its requirements through the launch of iOS 14 last year. Specifically, the company allowing game streaming platforms to develop individual apps for separate games for download on the app store. This would bypass problems with requirements around one launcher.
Catalog apps are also permitted on the provider they links to games in the service but those games open within their own app. Those individual apps then include the in-app purchase for Apple to get its 30%. It is a slightly sloppy system that Microsoft has criticized, but the company was willing to work with Apple to find a solution.
Wright says the company offered Apple to make individual Xbox Game Streaming apps. The company would have a main streaming app weight 150MB that would host the streaming technology, and then 30MB snippet apps for the games. Microsoft was also willing to offer Xbox exclusive games that are not available on Xbox Game Pass.
However, Apple stuck to its position and said the method would still violate its terms. Specifically, to use an in-app purchase to unlock benefits away from iOS.
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