Xbox Boss Discusses Apple Arcade, App Store Fees, and Game Pass Streaming in Safari

Microsoft's executive vice president of gaming, Phil Spencer, has discussed Xbox's approach to Apple Arcade, App Store fees, and game streaming on iOS via Safari in a new interview with The Verge.

App Store and XCloud

Earlier this year, Microsoft elected to withhold the launch of its Xbox games streaming service on iOS after it became clear that the project was no longer viable due to Apple's ‌App Store‌ restrictions. Eventually, Microsoft resolved to bypass Apple's restrictions by developing a browser-based solution.

When asked about the state of dialogue between Microsoft and Apple when it comes to game streaming, Spencer assured that Apple "remains open to the user experience we would like people to see." He explained that using a browser-based solution is simpler than a dedicated app in the long-term and it offers access to more devices:

But we have this avenue of a browser that works for us that we will go and build out, which gives us access, frankly, to a lot of devices.

If the device is capable of running a capable web browser, we're going to be able to bring games to it, which is pretty cool. You'll be able to bring all of your saved games and your friends and everything comes with you. It's just Xbox on this new screen with the games. Apple does remain open in the conversations that we have on this topic.

Moreover, Spencer expressed understanding for Apple's position on ‌App Store‌ restrictions and attributes it to ‌Apple Arcade‌ as a competing subscription service:

I can understand their perspective from their position. I don't say I agree with it, but they have a competitive product in Apple Arcade that is competitive with Xbox Game Pass. I'm sure they like having Apple Arcade as the only game content subscription on their phone. We want access to at-scale compute devices that we think should have open access to services customers want.

Spencer drew a specific comparison between Xbox Game Pass and ‌Apple Arcade‌ in terms of motivations, suggesting that both platforms have the same objective of prioritizing a player's engagement time, rather than catalog size.

I will say, and this is a healthy thing for Game Pass — it's true, it sounds like, of Apple Arcade as well — the number one metric that we see that drives success of Game Pass is hours played. It's not catalog size.

He also conveyed a willingness to cooperate with Apple on wider issues such as safety and security:

We're willing to work with them on safety and other things that people have come up with. We run a platform that takes safety and security very carefully. It is very important to us on Xbox, so that topic is not something that's foreign to us.

Spencer was directly asked if he believes Apple purposefully limits the capabilities of Safari in order to push developers to use its ‌App Store‌ and system of fees, but he said that "we have not seen that to date, just like we haven't on Chrome."

Interestingly, Spencer remarked that he believes comparisons between Apple's ‌App Store‌ fees and Xbox's fee structure are unfair due to the nature of their different devices:

If I can put Game Pass on iOS… if you just look at the scale, there are a billion mobile phones on the planet. Those are general compute platforms. A game console does one thing really; it plays video games. It's sold, for us, at a loss. Then you make money back by selling content and services on top. The model is just very, very different from something [on] the scale of Windows, or iOS, or Android.

I think there are 200 million game consoles that are sold in a generation across all of our platforms. That's less than a year of phone sales. It's just not even close.

Microsoft is still developing its browser-based Game Pass streaming solution for iOS and it has recently added device-to-device streaming from an Xbox to iOS and iPadOS devices over Wi-Fi.

The extensive interview also covered a range of other topics, such as the experience of working for Microsoft over the years, Xbox's process for naming its products, and the gaming community, as well as creating a safe environment for gamers.

Read or listen to the full interview at The Verge for more information.

Top Rated Comments

btrach144 Avatar
14 months ago
Comparing Apple Arcade with games that have no depth vs full blown console games. LOL

Streaming console games are going to crush Apple Arcade into the Stone Age. Apple better start adding games that have substance or people aren’t going to pay.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
btrach144 Avatar
14 months ago

But do you think Microsoft has a compatible browser? ?
Well you can run Microsoft Edge on Windows, macOS, iOS, android, Xbox, and Linux.

and on iOS it’s basically just safari due to apples rules.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjp1 Avatar
14 months ago

Your post makes no sense. Aside from the fact that Apple does not prevent competing browsers on iOS, you stated that Edge does run on iOS before stating only Safari is allowed.
Competing browsers can't use their own rendering engine. They are using Safari - I think that is what he is referring to.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)
CarlJ Avatar
14 months ago

Your post makes no sense. Aside from the fact that Apple does not prevent competing browsers on iOS, you stated that Edge does run on iOS before stating only Safari is allowed.
You can put another browser on iOS, yes, but Apple requires that it run WebKit under the surface rather than the developer’s own engine. So, Firefox, Chrome, etc., on iOS are largely the same as Safari (from a web developer’s standpoint), but with different bookmarks and syncing and window dressing. Closer to a re-theme than a different browser.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rjp1 Avatar
14 months ago
Imagine where Apple would be right now if Microsoft had used this level of control over apps on Windows versus letting people run whatever apps they wanted to on their own computer. What if Apple weren't allowed to make iTunes for Windows, but instead had to try to make it as a web app? I'm guessing this website wouldn't exist and Apple would be long gone.

Edit - and if Microsoft had taken 1/3 of all iTunes sales!
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Bytor65 Avatar
14 months ago
Tad hypocritical to call Apple walled garden bad because it's bigger. If governments step in dismantle walled gardens, then it should include consoles like Xbox.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

App Store and XCloud

Xbox Cloud Gaming 'Absolutely Will End Up on iOS,' Says Microsoft Gaming Boss

Friday October 9, 2020 5:48 am PDT by
Microsoft's vice-president of gaming, Phil Spencer, has told employees that the company is still intending to bring Game Pass streaming to the iPhone and iPad, according to Business Insider. Project xCloud was the working title of Microsoft's Game Pass cloud streaming service, which it says is its "vision for game-streaming technology that will complement our console hardware and give...
microsoft xcloud devices

Microsoft xCloud Beta for iPhone and iPad to Launch This Week [Updated]

Monday April 19, 2021 7:46 am PDT by
Microsoft has today announced that it will launch its browser-based Xbox Cloud Gaming service in beta to selected testers on iPhone and iPad tomorrow. Starting tomorrow, Microsoft will begin sending out invites to selected Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members to test the Xbox Cloud Gaming limited beta for iPhone, iPad, and Windows 10 PCs using a web browser. Invites will be issued on a continuous ...
apple arcade march 2021

Apple Arcade March 2021 Roundup: 'SP!NG,' 'Cozy Grove,' 'HitchHiker,' and 'Farm It!'

Friday March 26, 2021 8:03 am PDT by
This month, "SP!NG," "Cozy Grove," "HitchHiker," and "Farm It!" arrived on Apple Arcade, joining the expanding library of 152 games already on Apple's exclusive-based mobile gaming subscription service. Last month, Apple Arcade gained just two games: "Lumen" and "Survival Z." In March, four new games joined the platform in the casual, adventure, and simulation genres. March 5: SP!NG SP!...
nintendo switch

Sketchy Rumor Claims Apple Developing Nintendo Switch-Style Gaming Console

Tuesday May 11, 2021 9:03 am PDT by
Apple is working on a Nintendo Switch-style handheld games console, according to a sketchy new rumor coming from Asia. According to a post on a Korean forum, shared by Twitter user @FrontTron, Apple is developing a portable hybrid games console, comparable to the Nintendo Switch. While the sourcing of the rumor is suspect, it has gained some visibility in larger news outlets over the past...
Apple vs Microsoft feature

Rivalry Between Apple and Microsoft Heating Up Again Over Augmented Reality, Gaming, and More

Friday May 14, 2021 11:04 am PDT by
The iconic and industry-classic rivalry between Apple and Microsoft, which has arguably seen a slowdown in recent years, is poised to begin heating up as both companies target the future of augmented reality and renewed competition in the PC industry, according to an analysis from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Both Apple and Microsoft have strong ambitions for the future of augmented reality....
snoopy show homepage

Snoopy Takes Over Apple's Homepage for New TV+ Series, Puzzle Game 'Lumen' Added to Apple Arcade

Friday February 5, 2021 6:17 am PST by
New content is today arriving on Apple TV+ and Apple Arcade, in "The Snoopy Show" and puzzle game "Lumen." To celebrate the launch of The Snoopy Show, Apple has transformed its apple.com homepage. On the Apple homepage, individual sections for the iPhone 12, iPad Air, HomePod mini, and Apple TV 4K now feature small Snoopy characters and animations to promote the show's launch. Starring ...
app store blue banner

Judge Grills Tim Cook on App Store Policies as End of of Epic Games v. Apple Trial Approaches

Friday May 21, 2021 12:48 pm PDT by
Apple CEO Tim Cook testified in the Epic Games v. Apple trial today, and some of the final questioning by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers did not appear to go in Apple's favor. She spent several minutes grilling Cook on Apple's App Store policies and some of the statements that he made. "You said you want to give users control, so what's the problem with allowing users to have a cheaper option...
plex arcade

Plex Launches Plex Arcade With Retro Games to Play

Tuesday January 26, 2021 11:37 am PST by
Streaming media platform Plex today announced the launch of a new Plex Arcade feature that makes dozens of retro games available to stream from Plex. Retro arcade games can be played on iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, Chrome, and Android devices. Setup requires a Plex Media server on Windows or macOS, and any Bluetooth or USB game controller is compatible. Plex says that it recommends a Sony...

Popular Stories

macbook pro 13 inch banner

Apple Planning Five New Macs for 2022, Including Entry-Level MacBook Pro Refresh

Sunday December 5, 2021 7:55 am PST by
Apple is working on five new Macs for launch in 2022, including a new version of the entry-level MacBook Pro, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In the latest edition of his "Power On" newsletter, Gurman said that he expects Apple to launch five new Macs in 2022, including: A high-end iMac with Apple silicon to sit above the 24-inch iMac in the lineup A significant MacBook Air...
apple watch series 7 aluminum colors

2022 Apple Watch Lineup Rumored to Include New Apple Watch SE and 'Rugged' Model for Sports

Sunday December 5, 2021 8:22 am PST by
Apple is planning an entire revamp of its Apple Watch lineup for 2022, including an update to the Apple Watch SE and a new Apple Watch with a rugged design aimed at sports athletes, according to respected Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. Writing in the latest installment of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said that for 2022, alongside the Apple Watch Series 8, Apple is planning an update to ...
airtag in hand

Apple AirTag Linked to Increasing Number of Car Thefts, Canadian Police Report

Friday December 3, 2021 7:10 am PST by
Apple's AirTags are being used in an increasing number of targeted car thefts in Canada, according to local police. Outlined in a news release from York Regional Police, investigators have identified a new method being used by thieves to track down and steal high-end vehicles that takes advantage of the AirTag's location tracking capabilities. While the method of stealing the cars is largely ...
1x 1

Apple CEO Tim Cook 'Secretly' Signed $275 Billion Deal With China in 2016

Tuesday December 7, 2021 6:49 am PST by
Apple CEO Tim Cook "secretly" signed an agreement worth more than $275 billion with Chinese officials, promising that Apple would help to develop China's economy and technological capabilities, The Information reports. In an extensive paywalled report based on interviews and purported internal Apple documents, The Information revealed that Tim Cook personally forged a five-year agreement...
ipad air arrive feature

iPad Pro With Wireless Charging, iPad Air 5, and iPad 10 Reported to Debut in 2022

Sunday December 5, 2021 8:54 am PST by
Apple is preparing to update three of its iPad models in 2022, including the entry-level iPad, iPad Air, and iPad Pro, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. In his latest "Power On" newsletter, Gurman reiterated Apple's plans to release a new iPad Pro in 2022, featuring a new design and wireless charging, and clarified the company's intention to release new versions of the entry-level iPad...
2021 MBP SD Card Error Feature

Some SD Cards Not Working Properly With 2021 14 and 16-Inch MacBook Pros

Monday December 6, 2021 2:02 pm PST by
The SD card reader slot on the new 14 and 16-inch MacBook Pro models is not functioning as expected with some SD cards, according to multiple reports on the MacRumors forums. In a long complaint thread, MacRumors readers have detailed the issues that they're having with some SD cards, and there seems to be little consistency between reports and affected SD cards. Some SD cards crash and...
airpods pro blue holiday 3

Deals: AirPods Pro With MagSafe Available for $169.99 and Christmas Delivery on Amazon ($79 Off) [Update: Expired]

Monday December 6, 2021 6:03 am PST by
Amazon today has Apple's AirPods Pro with MagSafe Charging Case for $169.99 and delivery before Christmas Day, down from an original price of $249.00. This is $10 off from the rock bottom $159.99 price tag we tracked on Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and still a great deal for anyone shopping this holiday season. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and...
life360 app

Tile Buyer Life360 Selling Precise Location Data on Millions of Users

Monday December 6, 2021 1:05 pm PST by
Location tracking service Life360 has been selling the precise location data of tens of millions of its users, according to a new report shared by The Markup. Life360 bills itself as a "family safety platform" app that is meant to allow family members to keep tabs on one another with tracking software that's installed on smartphones, and there are both Android and iPhone apps. The...