Faced with the restrictive policy of the Apple App Store, Microsoft has decided to stop testing its cloud gaming service xCloud on iPhone, as reported by The Verge on Wednesday August 5th.
Microsoft had launched a test phase of xCloud, the real Netflix of video games, on iOS in a very limited way for several months. A test phase open to 10,000 users who could only play one game, Halo: The Masterchief Collection, and which was to last until September 11, as on Android.
But faced with Apple’s very restrictive policy towards cloud gaming services on its App Store, Microsoft preferred to stop the fees and end the test on iOS.
“The testing period of our xCloud preview TestFlight project has ended on iOS and we are focusing on cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to Android customers starting September 15,” said a carrier. Microsoft’s word to The Verge.
All cloud gaming services are blocked by Apple
Microsoft is not the only cloud gaming provider to see apples in the wheels. Apple considers that cloud gaming services, applications giving access to several third-party games without going through the App Store, are in violation of the terms of its App Store.
As 9to5mac pointed out, one can read in the terms of approval of an app on the App Store that, “You can offer a single subscription which is shared between your own applications and services, but these subscriptions cannot extend to third-party applications or services.
The games offered in a games subscription must be owned by the developer or be subject to an exclusive license (for example, not be part of a game publishing platform). Each game should be downloaded directly from the App Store, should be designed to avoid duplicate payments by a subscriber, and should not disadvantage non-subscribed customers. ”
Apple is not crazy, the firm knows very well that it could not recover 30% of the revenues generated on all games available in cloud gaming, because this would require too significant changes to the games offered by the various services.
Protectionism to preserve Apple Arcade
Recently, Shadow saw its iPhone and iPad apps kicked out of the App Store before returning. The issue Apple claimed was a violation of App Store terms without giving further details. But Shadow is not really a cloud gaming service, we are talking more about cloud computing.
In reality, the problem came from its Quick Launch feature, which allowed all of its installed games to be launched from the home screen, without going through the Shadow desktop. An overlay on the iOS interface which constituted a violation in the eyes of Apple.
And if you’re looking for GeForce Now, Sony PS Now clients on iPhone and iPad, you won’t find them either. Even Google Stadia, which does have an app on the App Store, doesn’t allow cloud games to be played. It’s just an app for managing your Stadia account – it’s really useful, isn’t it? No.
In any case, with this umpteenth withdrawal from a cloud gaming service provider, iPhone and iPad users do not have much to eat, except Apple Arcade. But Apple’s service has nothing to do with the offerings of gaming giants like Microsoft or Sony.
Apple even announced in early July that it wanted to focus on games that generate engagement, and therefore games that get addicted, typical of what we find on mobile. This would be done to the detriment of headlines, more qualitative, more ambitious. We are therefore light years away from the catalogs of Xbox or Playstation games in the cloud.
All that remains is to hope that the wave of protests from third-party publishers and developers facing the restrictive policy of the App Store face moving Apple. It is far from being won.
xCloud: Microsoft stops everything on iOS (Apple responds)
Microsoft will launch xCloud on September 15, but not on iOS. This new service from Microsoft will therefore be reserved for Android. While the company has partnered with Samsung to offer a special version on the Note 20 and S20 that allows you to buy directly from the Xbox Store, on iPhone players simply will not be able to download the application. After a beta version on TestFlight last April, Microsoft abandoned the port to iOS and stopped the tests that were scheduled until September 11. As you can imagine, the rules of the App Store have not been favorable to the project. Microsoft told The Verge:
Our Project xCloud preview period on TestFlight has ended on iOS and we are focused on bringing cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to Android customers starting September 15th.
The American group explains that its desire is to offer the xCloud service to as many people as possible but that the relationship with Apple is complicated. Too bad because Halo: The Master Chief Collection was available on iOS during the test to 10,000 people.
App Store rules at issue
Despite everything, it was to be expected because Apple does not like Cloud Gaming and has never accepted Stadia from Google for example. It also complicated the life of Valve’s SteamLink or that of Shadow. Apple absolutely wants its 30% commission on transactions and also argues another rule that should not be broken. Apple has set strict limits on “remote desktop clients” which means that applications are only allowed to connect to a host device owned by the user or a game console owned by the user. The host device and the client must also be connected on a local network. While Microsoft could potentially bypass in-app App Store purchasing policies, the Remote Desktop Client rules are probably the biggest hurdle. Everything is calculated on the company’s servers, as is the case with Stadia. Apple, which is the subject of several complaints and antitrust investigations in Europe, could draw the wrath of players with this kind of blockage. If you have an Android, you will be able to play Xbox One games on September 15 if you live in France, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and other countries like Portugal, the United Kingdom or the United States for example.
Apple responded via Business Insider by reminding that it only allows apps whose content can be verified: The App Store was created to be a safe and reliable place where customers can discover and download apps, and c is a great business opportunity for all developers. Before going live, all apps are screened against a single set of guidelines to protect customers and provide a level playing field for developers. Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and game services are absolutely free to launch on the App Store, as long as they follow the same set of guidelines that apply to all developers, including submitting submissions. games individually for review and appearance in leaderboards and research. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users on the web through Safari and other browsers.
Microsoft in turn responded to The Verge’s microphone: Our testing period for the Project xCloud preview as an app on iOS has expired. Unfortunately, we don’t have a way to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to iOS gamers through the Apple App Store. Apple is the only mainstream platform that denies consumers cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it always treats games differently, applying looser rules to apps that aren’t games, even when they include interactive content. All games available in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated for content by independent industry rating bodies, such as the ESRB and its regional equivalents. We are committed to finding a solution to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform. We believe the customer should be at the heart of the gaming experience and gamers tell us they want to play, connect and share anywhere, anywhere.
xCloud on iOS: Microsoft gives up because of App Store rules
It is on September 15th that xCloud will be available to everyone. This service from Microsoft allows you to stream Xbox games on smartphones and tablets. It will be offered on Android, but not on iOS due to Apple’s rules.
A beta version (more than limited) was accepted on TestFlight, Apple’s test platform, a few months ago. It was short-lived, to the point that Microsoft ditched the beta on iOS today * i when it was originally scheduled to end on September 11th.
“Our Project xCloud preview period on TestFlight has ended on iOS and we are focused on bringing cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to Android customers starting September 15,” Microsoft told The Verge. . The group says they want to offer xCloud on more devices, but it’s complicated with Apple. During the beta on iOS, only Halo: The Master Chief Collection was available to 10,000 people “to comply with App Store policies,” says Microsoft.
It must be said that Apple does not really like these applications related to cloud gaming since the manufacturer does not really have control over them (on purchases in particular and therefore on its 30% commission). Moreover, Stadia, Google’s cloud gaming service, is not offered on iOS (there is only a management application with which it is not possible to play). We can also cite the case of Steam Link, which took a year to receive the green light from Apple. And again, Valve had to make adjustments.
Apple is taking risks with the App Store rules and could alienate a lot of gamers. The iPhone manufacturer is precisely concerned by investigations for anti-competitive practices, in Europe in particular.