Over the last few months, it has become clear that Microsoft is seeking to branch out into general Video Game Streaming services. Its xCloud Platform is scheduled for a September 15th release on all Google/Android run devices. Their war with Sony and Nintendo is for all intents and purposes over (at least for the time being). Microsoft wants to sell Xbox Series X consoles, but it doesn’t want to sell them as much as they want to sell their Ultimate Xbox Game Pass subscriptions.
Microsoft’s plans are ambitious indeed, and yet, one tech giant has emerged to stand on its way: Apple.
This week Microsoft has announced a partnership with Samsung, the partnership includes some special features of its exclusive the Samsung’s Galaxy Note 20 users. The one name conspicuously absent from Microsoft’s xCloud announcements was Apple’s.
“Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. 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.” – Microsoft.
Microsoft ambitions are to be the leading brand of high quality video game streaming content in the mobile (and perhaps the Smart TV ) market. By the time Sony and Nintendo wake up to this upcoming reality, Microsoft will have (it hopes) the greatest share of that market pie.
With 1.5 billion iOS active devices in the world, securing a place for its xCloud Xbox Game Pass service on Apple’s devices will be paramount to that success. This explains the strong comments by the company, and it also might explain why Apple has been resilient to support streaming gaming apps on its platform.
Google’s Stadia Streaming Service, and the Facebook Gaming App have both run into similar issues, with Stadia being complete absent from iOS devices. Apple has reacted to the criticism by releasing the following statement:
“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.”- Apple
So, on the basis that, Apple can’t review every game on Game Pass (weird I know), they have, for the moment, blocked Microsoft’s xCloud Game Pass service from its app store. Apple’s reasoning is faulty to be sure, and they have a history of being restrictive, and controlling, as anyone who has owned an iPhone or Mac device would know.
The real reason for the blockage might be the fact that Apple doesn’t want any external ( and superior) competition for its own gaming App; the Apple Arcade. Still, clearly Microsoft isn’t happy about it, the company has lost, for the time being, millions of potential subscriptions by xCloud being blocked out of iOS devices.
Considering that Microsoft and the Xbox brand wants to branch out of the Console, and PC space into the “Mainstream” mobile world, as Phil Spencer eloquently has stated on different interviews, perhaps this will not be the end of Microsoft and Apple’s “negotiations” on the subject of xCloud.