streaming of Xbox games Microsoft will provide Apple’s iOS and Windows PCs with its cloud-based game streaming service in spring 2021. Previously known as xCloud, it has only been available on Xbox consoles and Android smartphones.
Microsoft also tried to launch the iPhones service, but the move was blocked by Apple, prompting a public row between the two technology giants. And now Microsoft is saying that a new web browser-based version will bypass Apple’s App Store restrictions.
The game streaming service is now part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription plan, which gives gamers access to more than 100 games per month for £10.99.
Browser-based streaming will be available on PCs alongside a version that uses the Windows Xbox app. But on iOS, Apple told Microsoft that it would have to submit each game to the App Store on a stand-alone basis rather than a wide selection in a single app.
Microsoft thought it was not feasible and had previously hinted that it would find another way to get the service to iPhones and iPads. The solution is not to use the App Store at all by allowing people to access the service via a web browser, just like any other website.
The same approach was adopted by the GeForce Now streaming service, which recently announced its own web browser solution for iOS Streaming of Xbox games.
And that has the knock-on effect of bringing Fortnite back to iPhones via cloud streaming, despite Apple’s banning the App Store game in the middle of a row over payment fees. The upcoming Amazon service, Luna, is also pursuing the same workarounds.
Moving to other platforms is part of Microsoft’s drive to subscription services, whether or not the customer owns an Xbox console. It estimates that changes in the spring will mean an additional billion devices capable of connecting to its cloud gaming service.
“Expanding Xbox to new players is central to our ambition of helping games and developers find an easy path to the world’s three billion gamers,” the company said. “We are doing this by embracing multiple devices and providing a consistent Xbox experience wherever you log in.”
Microsoft’s strategy appears to be working-said that user engagement with the Game Pass system has doubled year-on-year and is now expanding the game streaming program to new countries, including Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico.