Xbox cloud gaming service hits iOS, Windows PCs in spring 2021
December 9, 2020
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This demonstration of Microsoft's Project xCloud as played with a Razer Kishi controller, attached to a standard Android smartphone, could be a hint of what's to come to iOS devices in spring of 2021.
Enlarge / This demonstration of Microsoft’s Project xCloud as played with a Razer Kishi controller, attached to a standard Android smartphone, could be a hint of what’s to come to iOS devices in spring of 2021.

Microsoft

In a blog post today outlining everything from upcoming games to plans for Xbox Series X/S, Microsoft announced that Xbox cloud gaming will come to iOS mobile devices and Windows PCs in spring of 2021.

On Windows PCs, the games will stream through the Xbox app or a Web browser, whereas the service will be limited to the mobile Web browser on iOS devices.

Microsoft’s game-streaming features require an Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, which also includes an on-demand library of downloadable games for both Xbox platforms and Windows PCs, the EA Play downloadable game library, and Xbox Live Gold, Microsoft’s online multiplayer service.

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate costs $14.95 per month in the US, but Microsoft is currently offering a discounted three-month trial at $1 for new users.

Additionally, Microsoft says that both cloud gaming and Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will come to new markets in the spring, including Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Xbox game streaming has been available on Android devices for a few months, and it was expected to arrive on Windows PCs eventually. But its presence on iOS was far from certain.

Apple’s App Store guidelines at first prohibited any kind of game-streaming service, with the argument that curation for quality and non-obscenity are important principles of how the App Store is run. Apple argued that the inability for its internal reviewers to assess individual games on a wide-ranging streaming service precluded the option to offer services like Microsoft’s, or Google’s competing Stadia service, on the App Store.

Microsoft and others pointed out that Apple seems to treat games differently from other forms of media; Cupertino has not balked at the presence of TV shows, books, music, magazines, or other media in similar subscription-based apps on its App Store. It has only applied these restrictions to games.

After a spirited PR battle and debates in the press, Apple slightly loosened the restrictions, saying that game subscription services like Xbox cloud streaming or Stadia could live on the iOS App Store provided each game offered in such a service is listed as an individual app on the App Store, and thus is subject to Apple’s review process.

Google’s Stadia announced plans to forgo that hassle entirely and instead offer its games through a browser-based experience, and now (as previously rumored) Microsoft has taken the same path.

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