Android gamers who also subscribe to the Xbox Game Pass have been enjoying streaming games on their phones for several weeks. But due to a very specific App Store policy, Game Pass and similar services like Stadia aren’t currently allowed on the iPhone and iPad. Microsoft may get around that policy with a web app next year.
Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Head of Xbox, said as much in a conference call to the company’s employees. Business Insider reports that Spencer told his team that they’d be working on a “direct browser-based solution” for Game Pass streaming (nee xCloud). That would get around Apple’s directive that every game on the App Store has to be reviewed and approved by Apple itself, including those games that are hosted on streaming services.
Amazon has come to the same conclusion: the retailer says that its forthcoming cloud gaming service Luna will launch with support for the iPhone and iPad via an app that runs entirely in the web browser. Some third-party developers have worked around it, too. “Stadium” is a browser app designed specifically (but not explicitly) to run the Chrome web version of Google Stadia on iOS. It’s still available as a free download at the time of writing.
Apple’s streaming game policy is clearly at odds with the direction that the game industry is heading. There’s an argument to be made that it’s tailored to give a competitive advantage to the Apple Arcade service. That’s an argument Apple could do without, as it faces a lawsuit from Epic over App Store policies and increasing scrutiny for monopoly behavior in the US and Europe.