Is apple the most anti-innovative company?
In September, Microsoft will launch their highly anticipated streaming service Project xCloud as an addition to Game Pass Ultimate. In theory, anyone can play hundreds of Xbox games on his or her smartphone, but in practice ‘everyone’ is limited to Android owners. iOS users are left out by the strict rules of Apple.
There have been several rumors regarding the lack of an iOS version of the xCloud application. Now it turns out that Microsoft is not to blame at all, it is Apple actively banning xCloud from their ecosystem. That they mainly have their own game service Apple Arcade wanting to protect will undoubtedly play a role in this, but that is of course not the reason they cite in official reports.
xCloud will not be available for the same reason that Stadia also not playable on iOS. Apple declares to Business Insider that such cloud services violate their policies because they act as “hubs” for apps (games) that Apple cannot pre-approve individually.
“Before apps appear on our App Store, they are thoroughly reviewed to protect consumers and provide a level playing field for developers,” Apple told Business Insider. “Gaming services can absolutely launch in the App Store as long as they follow the same rules that apply to other developers, including submitting games separately for review so that games can show up in the top lists and search results.”
Microsoft has tried to find a detour, but declares to The Verge that they have not succeeded. Microsoft also accuses Apple of consistently imposing stricter rules on gaming apps. The company also emphasizes that all games in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are carefully monitored by agencies such as ESRB and local equivalents. They report that they continue to look for a way to make cloud gaming available on iOS.
Then why are Netflix, Shadow and Steam Link allowed?
Nevertheless, a service such as Netflix is allowed to exist, even though Apple will not approve every film individually there. According to Apple, the difference is in the type of content. Games are interactive, unlike music and movies.
Shadow, a competing cloud streaming service that gives users access to a high-end gaming PC in the cloud, is available for iOS. Before that, the developers had to remove the ‘quick launch’ functionality that allows users to start a game immediately. A “remote desktop” application is allowed on iOS, so Shadow could get around Apple’s policy. Steam Link went through a similar process. They had to remove the option to purchase games through the application.
Microsoft is therefore actively looking for a solution, but it will undoubtedly not come in the short term. So the company has to roll out their big xCloud service with a false start. Tragic.
Unlike Google Stadia, xCloud relies entirely on gamers streaming via their smartphone. XCloud is not (yet) available as a (web) app and on smart TVs, while Google Stadia does offer those options. Now that Microsoft is forced to exclude all iOS users, Apple is sabotaging the hugely interesting trend of cloud gaming.
Those who don’t have an iPhone may have an iPad that they want to stream Xbox games on, but that won’t work either. ‘Thanks to’ Apple’s decision, we will therefore not be able to see how big cloud gaming can really become, as Apple has just completely disrupted the playing field.
It’s pretty ironic (and poignant) that Apple – a company that today lacks any sense of innovation – is actively boycotting even innovative third-party solutions rather than working with the developer to find a solution.
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