Microsoft's xCloud Unavailable on iOS at Launch, Future Uncertain
Microsoft's upcoming "Project xCloud" game streaming service is set to launch on September 15th, exclusively on Android devices. Despite extensive testing via TestFlight on iOS, xCloud's launch on iOS seems to have been postponed indefinitely.
Project xCloud is Microsoft's "vision for game-streaming technology that will complement our console hardware and give gamers more choices in how and where they play." xCloud will be bundled as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription for $14.99 per month, with more than 100 games available.
App Store guidelines ban services that rely on streaming games from the cloud. Cloud gaming services, where users stream games live via an internet connection, are growing in popularity.
Although Microsoft has been trialing xCloud on iOS with a closed public preview of 10,000 testers, the company previously stated that testing was limited due to Apple's App Store policies. Unlike the Android version, the app was limited to streaming games from the cloud only, excluding the ability to stream games from an Xbox console.
"To comply with App Store policies, the preview experience on iOS may look and feel different for those who have been testing on Android," Microsoft warned ahead of launching the preview.
Only one title, "Halo: The Master Chief Collection," was available on the TestFlight app. This is because App Store rules state that "games offered in a game subscription must be owned or exclusively licensed by the developer."
"It's our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices, but we have nothing further to share at this time regarding iOS," a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge.
Apple initially rejected Valve's Steam Link app due to "business conflicts," and it took almost a year to eventually be approved. Steam Link and Sony's PS4 Remote Play was approved only because the App Store allows remote desktop technology, but it is limited to devices on the same network.
Similar game streaming services Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now are still unavailable on iOS. A spokesperson for Nvidia, when asked about the challenge of reaching iOS users with GeForce Now, told Bloomberg, "Ask Apple."
The TestFlight preview of xCloud has ended today and will no longer function. This is due to Apple's automatic expiry date on all TestFlight apps, indicating that it has been 90 days since the preview was updated. The future of xCloud on iOS now seems to be uncertain, and it is unknown whether development will continue.