Microsoft have set out what’s next for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate’s cloud game streaming, announcing that they will be making it available for Windows PC and iOS in Spring 2021.
You might be thinking to yourself, “Wait, how can they do this on iPhone when Apple are great big poopy pants about game streaming apps?” And the answer is that Microsoft will simply skirt past that restriction by letting you play via a web browser. Microsoft have adopted an approach similar to that announced for Amazon Luna‘s streaming service, which also support iOS via web browser.
On Windows PC, you’ll have two options. You’ll be able to play either through the Xbox app that’s built into Windows 10 or via web browser.
The browser approach on iOS is necessary because, while Google are more than happy to allow apps that stream games from servers, Apple has been very strict about this, their terms and guidelines indicating that every single game on the streaming platform would need to have an iOS app store entry and go through Apple’s certification process. This has so far stalled Google Stadia and Xbox Game Pass streaming from appearing on iPhones and iPads, though remote play from a PC or console that you personally own is allowed.
After over a year of limited closed beta testing, Microsoft launched Xbox Game Pass cloud gaming in September for all Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. Since then the service has been available on Android, but this expansion shows Microsoft stepping up to compete more directly against Google Stadia, which is on Android, PCs and TVs via Chromecast dongles, and the emerging Amazon Luna, which is on PC and iOS.
Microsoft will also be broadening access to the service, with Australia, Brazil, Japan and Mexico graduating from the preview stage to the full cloud gaming service in the new year. Technically it’s still a beta, though.
The one thing holding Microsoft back will be the quality of the games that they stream. That is to say that the server blades are all based on Xbox One S hardware, limiting the game streams to 720p and 30 frames per second. While Stadia and Luna both tout more powerful servers with 1080p and 4K streaming, Microsoft will have to start rolling out Xbox Series X-based servers before they can compete in terms of visual fidelity.