And it’s working
Next month, Project xCloud is bringing more than 100 games to Android-using Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. However, iPhone users shouldn’t expect Xbox’s game streaming service to hit their devices anytime soon.
In a statement to Business Insider, Apple confirms that its notoriously draconian App Store policies are inflexible in a way that prevents Project xCloud (or, Google Stadia for that matter) from reasonably existing on iOS devices. Apple requires that every single title available on Project xCloud be submitted and reviewed individually. The Project xCloud app, which serves as a gateway to launch more than 100 games, is in violation of that.
An Apple spokesperson says “Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers.” This exact ecosystem is a standard that only gaming is really held to. Services like Netflix don’t run into the same problems, which Apple pins on “[different] consumer expectations baked into the App Store related to gaming.”
However, Apple doesn’t have a lot of incentive to bend the rules for a direct competitor. Last fall, Apple launched Apple Arcade, a subscription service for playing games on iOS devices. It’s more or less exactly what Project xCloud is doing.
That doesn’t mean Project xCloud on iOS is dead in the water. Apple insists that “gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search.” It’s a lot of hoops to jump through and Apple knows that.
Project xCloud is already on iOS devices in a very limited capacity. It was opened to 10,000 beta testers who only had access to Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Microsoft hasn’t built upon that at all. It’ll likely stay that way for the foreseeable future. Project xCloud merges with Xbox Game Pass on Android devices on September 15; iOS users are left out, probably until Apple changes its App Store policies.