After unsuccessful negotiations, Microsoft launched its Xbox cloud gaming service, xCloud, without an iOS app. Since cloud gaming offers hundreds and thousands of games via remote servers, Apple argued that it can not allow games that are not approved by its App Store review team on iPhone and iPad. Therefore, Microsoft made the xCloud available on iPhone and iPad via the web. But there was more to the story.
Internal emails filed during the Epic Games vs. Apple trial, obtained by The Verge, revealed that Microsoft was willing to bring triple-A Xbox games on iOS App Store to persuade the tech giant. It was explained that Microsoft would have run exclusive Xbox games on xCloud platform, streaming from remote server farms with Xbox One and Xbox Series X processor, so users can download the game’s app from the App Store and enjoy it without paying $14.99 Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription.
Apple rejected Microsoft’s workout around to offer triple-A Xbox games on iPhone and iPad
Initially overwhelmed with the requirement to offer individual apps for each Xbox game on the App Store, Microsoft Xbox head of business development Lori Wright raised concerns over “complexity & management of creating hundreds to thousands of apps,” with Apple’s App Store team. She also added that several apps on users’ Home Screens will “create frustration and confusion for customers, resulting in a sub-par experience on Apple devices relative to the equivalent experience on all other platforms.”
However, after months of deliberation, Wright informed Apple that Microsoft can create individual apps for Xbox games on the App Store to function like shortcuts instead of squeezing the whole xCloud library into each other. Similar to Netflix games on iOS. She wrote:
“If we have a single streaming tech app, it will be around 150 MB, but the other apps will only be roughly 30 MB and will not need to be updated when the streaming tech is updated. This will be a better experience for users.”
She also proposed to bring triple-A Xbox games to iOS, “the streaming tech package as a separate app to deliver the right experience. This would be an incredibly exciting opportunity for iOS users to get access to these exclusive AAA titles in addition to the Game Pass games.”
To iOS users’ dismay, the deal did not materialize because Apple was not willing to allow such shortcuts at the time and insisted that each game include the complete streaming stack. Xbox Cloud Gaming CVP Kareem Choudhry told The Verge that:
“Our proposal for bringing games through individual apps was designed to comply with App Store policies. It was denied by Apple based on our request that there be a single streaming tech app to support the individual game apps, as the initial email states. Forcing each game to include our streaming tech stack proved to be unrealistic from a support and engineering perspective and would create an incredibly negative experience for customers.”