Last month, Microsoft announced that its streaming game service would be free for every Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber, but it looks like that might be a moot point for iOS users.
Earlier today, Microsoft confirmed that they have ended their Project xCloud game streaming test for iOS devices. While they have apparently been testing xCloud on iOS in over the past few months, the recent announcement regarding xCloud on mobile devices only included Android platforms.
Microsoft also informed xCloud testers that the preview for iOS platforms would end on 11 September 2020, but the Android preview will continue on.
Speaking with The Verge, a Microsoft representative said:
“Our Project xCloud preview TestFlight period has ended on iOS and we are focused on delivering cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to Android customers beginning September 15.
It’s our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices.”
Why did this happen? Well, Microsoft faced complications with “App Store policies”, though they have yet to reveal which Apple policies are preventing xCloud from launching on iOS.
In comparison, rival Google’s Stadia game streaming service is also not available on iOS platforms, with other game streaming apps also having issues on the App Store in the past.
In hindsight, it seems like the issues are related with Apple’s rules on in-app purchases through its App Store and the strict limits on “remote desktop clients”, which means that apps are only allowed to connect to a user-owned host device or game console owned by the user.
That seems likely to be the case, considering that Microsoft is avoiding in-app purchases with the Google Play Store version of the Xbox Game Pass that will come with xCloud. Instead, they have replaced that with a special version of the Xbox Game Pass app that will allow Xbox players to redeem tokens and make in-app purchases like buying skins or DLC items in the Xbox Store.