Microsoft announced in a blog post this morning that its cloud gaming platform with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate is coming to iOS and PC in spring 2021.
The company previously announced in October that it was working on bringing Xbox cloud gaming to PC and iOS. It cut short its Project xCloud testing on iOS back in August; at the time, Microsoft said Apple’s App Store policies were the reason it could not bring its cloud gaming service to iOS. (They weren’t wrong.) But that that’s neither here nor there now, because Microsoft will be able to provide its service through the Safari browser instead of the iOS App Store.
“We will take the next step in our journey to reach more players around the world by making cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate available on Windows PCs through the Xbox app and browser, and iOS devices through mobile web browser,” said Jerret West, CVP of Microsoft Gaming.
At the moment, cloud gaming via Microsoft’s ecosystem is only compatible with Android phones via the Xbox Game Pass mobile app, which is available from Google Play and the Samsung Galaxy Store. There are currently 193 Xbox and PC games that can be played over the cloud, including games like Control, Destiny 2, Forza Horizon 4, and Halo Master Chief Collection.
Gizmodo spent some time with Xbox cloud gaming when it was first released and found it was a near-flawless service, and way more polished than Stadia was at launch. There were some optimization issues with Halo, but those have since been fixed.
The company is also launching its cloud gaming service in Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico for the first time. Microsoft recently started a limited Project xCloud preview program in those locations.
It will be interesting to see how Xbox cloud gaming will compare to other streaming services on iOS specifically. Both Nvidia and Google recently announced their streaming services would be coming to iOS. GeForce Now is already available, along with Amazon’s Luna. Having Microsoft’s streaming service arrive on iOS will round out the cloud gaming ecosystem—and all four companies are able to do that without having their apps on Apple’s App Store. GeForce Now, Stadia, Luna, and Xbox cloud gaming can or will be accessible via the Safari browser, which gets around Apple’s rules about in-app purchases and game streaming services.
Sure, there are still pitfalls when it comes to cloud gaming, like bandwidth and data usage, but this latest announcement shows cloud gaming is here to stay.