Microsoft‘s Xbox Game Pass is currently stuck in App Store limbo — and rumor has it the company is planning a workaround that’ll let them get xCloud streaming onto the platform without having to work within Apple’s restrictions.
According to Business Insider, Xbox head Phil Spencer called an all-hands meeting earlier this week, and said Microsoft is looking for a browser-based solution to the conundrum, allegedly saying, “We absolutely will end up on iOS.” It would mean users would have access to the platform’s cloud gaming options, just not through an official app.
In case you weren’t aware, Apple doesn’t allow other app stores on the App Store. It’s complicated, but in a nutshell Apple considers that, since you can download games from the Xbox Game Pass app, it counts as an app store. It’s not thus far allowed Game Pass — or, more specifically, its xCloud gaming solution — onto the App Store for that purpose. It’s offered up a compromise, allowing Microsoft to have Game Pass if it individually submits each game available through the service for individual review.
Given how many games are available on Xbox, that’s obviously very labor-intensive, and not likely to be feasible even for Microsoft. It’s outright refused to even consider doing it Apple’s way, saying in a statement to The Verge, “This remains a bad experience for customers. Gamers want to jump directly into a game from their curated catalog within one app just like they do with movies or songs, and not be forced to download over 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud.” Honestly, they make a good point.
If this works, it would allow the company to duck the App Store requirements.This is very similar to the solution Amazon’s supposedly found for its cloud gaming platform, Luna, so this solution is not without precedent. Word is the company is also planning to bring xCloud to Windows 10 PCs early next year.
While no one mentions it directly, I wonder if Apple is being a little extra stubborn because of the Fortnite nonsense going on. It’s got a slim lead on Epic Games at the moment, in that the judge in the hearing went pretty hard on Epic, but it might still want to look uncompromising when it comes to “game stores” it allows on the App Store. I could be wrong, but if I were Apple, I’d be willing to forgo a better compromise if it made my case weaker.
Microsoft employees are planning to make the xCloud browser solution some time next year.