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Xbox Game Pass streaming is coming to iOS in the spring, but not through the App Store

Apple’s restrictive store policies are why Microsoft is skipping the App Store.

Xbox cloud gaming service on a smartphone that is attached to a controller
Image: Joe Rice-Jones / KnowTechie

Xbox has confirmed that Game Pass game streaming will be coming to iOS, starting in the spring of 2021. Currently, App Store policies make it difficult for game streaming services to get approved, so Microsoft is side-stepping the issue and bringing xCloud to iOS via a web app.

We first heard about Microsoft’s intentions back in October, after the xCloud preview period ran out. Microsoft had been serving xCloud through Apple’s Testflight program, which lets developers test out apps outside of the App Store and its policies.

Apple decided that game streaming services such as Microsoft’s xCloud, Google’s Stadia, and Amazon’s Luna, all would have to submit every individual game to Apple for approval, making just the logistics of adding the game libraries to the App Store prohibitively difficult.

Adding xCloud to a web app through Game Pass also benefits gamers on other platforms, such as PC, where Microsoft will be using the same tech instead of creating a standalone Windows app. The web app version of xCloud for iOS will be in beta, to begin with, with no firm date as to when it will be out of beta. With game streaming still very much in its infancy, we expect it to stay in beta for a good while.

Will Apple change how it defines its own policy about game streaming services in the future? Maybe we’ll see native iOS apps at some point as we see on Android. Whatever the end result, game streaming is here to stay.

What do you think? Plan on trying out Game Pass game streaming when it is available? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere. His hobbies include photography, animation, and hoarding Reddit gold.

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