Microsoft told employees it plans to release a browser-based app for the Xbox Game Pass streaming service next year that will get around Apple App Store rules: 'We absolutely will end up on iOS'
Phil Spencer, head of Microsoft's gaming division. Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images
Last month, Microsoft officially added an important feature to Game Pass, its subscription library for Xbox Netflix-style games: the ability to stream many of the included games to any Android smartphone or tablet.
In particular, Apple's iPhone and iPad were missing from the start. Apple has stated that apps for streaming services like Game Pass or Google Stadia are not allowed because not every game on the platform can be checked.
"We will definitely end up with Game Pass on iOS," said Microsoft gaming boss Phil Spencer to the staff. The company is targeting the possible release of a "direct browser-based solution" in 2021, said Spencer.
Amazon says it is able to bring its upcoming cloud gaming service Luna to the iPhone by offering it as a web app.
Microsoft did not comment at the time of publication.
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Microsoft's gaming boss Phil Spencer told employees at an all-hands meeting on Wednesday that the company plans to bring Game Pass to Apple's iPhone and iPad in order to achieve the possible release of a "direct browser-based solution" in 2021, such as Business Insider has learned.
"We'll definitely land on iOS," Spencer told staff, two people with direct knowledge of his comments. Microsoft did not comment at the time of publication. Apple has not yet responded to a request for comment.
Microsoft last month added an important new feature to Game Pass, a Netflix-style subscription service that gives Xbox and PC gamers access to an extensive catalog of games. Now Game Pass subscribers can stream many of the included titles straight to their Android phones or tablets without the need for a console.
What is remarkable about the absence when the function was started was the support for Apple's iPhone and iPad. An Apple spokesman told Business Insider this summer that streaming games in apps like Game Pass or Google Stadia is not allowed because not every game can be checked in the respective libraries of the services.
Spencer, who has publicly stated that he is determined to offer the Game Pass to Apple users, told employees the company is looking at how they can access iPhone and iPad devices through their browsers.
Later on Thursday, The Verge reported that Spencer said at the same meeting that streaming with Game Pass would also come to Windows 10 PCs next year.
A hint as to what that might look like comes from Amazon, stating it can bring its upcoming cloud gaming service Luna to the iPhone by offering it as a web app. In an interview with Engadget, George Tsipolitis, Luna’s technical and technological director, said Amazon worked with Apple to make this functionality possible. Google makes its similar Stadia service available on PCs and Macs through its Chrome web browser, though it's also not available on the iPhone or iPad.
Apple stated that Game Pass or Stadia would only be allowed to offer game streaming services if every single title in the catalog was available in its own discreet app.
Microsoft stated that this approach would not be a starter for Game Pass, for which dozens of games are available: "Unfortunately, we have no way of furthering our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate players over iOS over Apple bring App Store, "said a Microsoft spokesman in August.
Apple's decision not to allow services similar to Game Pass for iOS became an issue during the Congressional Antitrust Subcommittee investigation into potentially anti-competitive practices by big tech companies, including Apple.
Former director of the Apple App Store, Phil Shoemaker, claimed, according to a report the subcommittee released this week, that Apple does not allow services like Game Pass because they directly compete with Apple's own subscription service, Apple Arcade.
Apple announced an event this week, slated for October 13th, where the next iPhone will be unveiled.
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