Microsoft tried and failed to bring Xbox games to the iOS App Store

Emails detail what Microsoft was willing to do before it launched xCloud in the browser.

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Mariella Moon
December 10th, 2021
Xbox
Aaron Souppouris/Engadget

The Epic Games vs. Apple trials brought to light how Microsoft tried to conjure up solutions on how to make Xbox games available from the App Store. Apple revised its guidelines last year so that companies like Microsoft and Google can make their games available on iOS. That said, they can only do so by releasing each game as an app that users can download. Microsoft previously said that forcing users to download hundreds of game apps is "a bad experience," but it would've reportedly done so if Apple had agreed to its proposal. 

According to private emails seen by The Verge, the Xbox head of business development Lori Wright laid out a proposal for Apple, which would allow Microsoft to put individual game apps on the iOS store without taking up all of a user's storage space. Wright asked Apple to allow Microsoft to put its streaming tech inside the Gaming Pass app alone. That would give the company a way to make the game apps themselves around 30 MB in size instead of the 150 MB that they would be if its streaming tech was incorporated into each of them. 

Instead of using the device's processing power, the games would stream out of remote servers powered by Xbox One and Xbox Series X processors. Wright also apparently offered to make Xbox-exclusives available for iOS users in an effort to convince Apple. "This would be an incredibly exciting opportunity for iOS users to get access to these exclusive AAA titles in addition to the Game Pass games," she wrote in an email. 

Microsoft told The Verge that Apple rejected its solution and wanted the company to incorporate its streaming tech into every game application. As for Apple, it told the publication that Microsoft's proposal didn't adhere to its App Store Review Guidelines, "specifically the requirement to use in-app purchase to unlock additional features or functionality within an app." Microsoft denied that in-app purchases factored into Apple's rejection.

In the end, Microsoft eventually shifted its development focus and gave iOS users access to xCloud via Safari. Xbox Cloud Gaming CVP Kareem Choudhry told The Verge, however, that the company "will continue to look for viable resolutions that [will] allow [its games] into the App Store."

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