Microsoft xCloud finally comes to iOS and PC

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iPhone users can breath a collective sigh of relief. After delays thanks to a very public tiff with Apple, Microsoft’s cloud gaming service is finally coming to iOS as well as PC in Spring 2021. xCloud will be supported on iOS devices, including iPhone and iPad, via a mobile web app, while PC users will be able to access xCloud through the Xbox app for Windows 10.

Previous announcements noted the timeframe as “early 2021,” but Microsoft clarified the iOS and PC launch date in a Wednesday blog post. In the post, Xbox Marketing Chief Jerret West confirmed the next step in its cloud gaming model will take place in Spring 2021. According to West, “By adding over a billion devices as a path to playing in the Xbox ecosystem, we envision a seamless experience for all types of players.”

West also shared some Game Pass insights within the post, noting that engagement has more than doubled compared to last year, and gamers were binging on popular titles that included the likes of “Destiny 2: Beyond Light,” “Rainbow Six: Siege,” and “Tetris Effect Connected,” among other games.

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Details on the xCloud Expansion

When xCloud makes its way to Apple devices and PC, the service will continue to be bundled as part of Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscription, at $15 monthly. Eventually the company plans to extend the cloud gaming beta to an even larger market next year, including Australia, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

As a free add-on to the Game Pass Ultimate, users can access over 150 popular game titles, a list that will expand as Microsoft updates its cloud gaming library.

Postponed Takeoff

Microsoft’s goal of making its games playable to even more mobile users wasn’t an easy undertaking, especially with regards to the tech titan Apple. xCloud beta launched on Android devices in September of this year, but hit a roadblock when Apple announced prohibitive rules surrounding cloud gaming services the same month.

In essence, Apple banned cloud gaming services like xCloud from appearing in the App Store, expressing doubt that such services could ever exist within the App Store framework. Apple stood behind its policy, citing the reason for the ban was an inability to review every game offered on such platforms.

Apple eventually gave some compromise, offering developers the opportunity to host cloud gaming services that launch directly through the mobile browser. Microsoft and other companies in the cloud gaming space pivoted and began developing mobile web versions of their respective services.

The Future of Gaming?

Is cloud gaming the way of the future? If the recent moves from industry leaders are any indication, it would seem so. Microsoft has already allocated a large portion of resources into the cloud gaming concept, and many competitors are following suit. Though it’s been an uphill battle since its launch last year, Google continues to bolster its Stadia efforts and announced the cloud gaming service would also come to iOS devices by the end of the year. Similarly, Nvidia joined the space with its GeForce Now, which is currently running on iOS in beta.

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