Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be unavailable on Apple devices


  • This September, Microsoft’s Xbox-based game streaming service is scheduled to launch.
  • The service enables users to play dozens of Xbox games via the cloud, on smartphones and tablets. Any progress made on those games will be reflected on the Xbox when you pick it up there.
  • Better yet: The service is paired with a large library of games that are streamable, similar to how services like Netflix have large libraries of TV shows and movies to watch.
  • When the service arrives this September, it won’t launch on Apple’s iPhone and iPad — and that’s due to Apple’s App Store policies.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

This September, Microsoft plans to launch a major coup in the video game business: The world’s first game streaming service with a built-in streaming library, Netflix-style.

For $15 per month, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate promises a curated library of over 100 games that can be streamed directly to smartphones, tablets, and Xbox game consoles. Moreover, every major Xbox game published by Microsoft, from “Halo” to “Gears of War” to “Forza Motorsport,” will be published to the service at launch, alongside a smattering of third-party games like “The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt” and “Grand Theft Auto 5.”

It’s the next evolution of an already successful service: Xbox Game Pass has over 10 million paying subscribers right now.

But when it arrives on September 15, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will only be available for Android smartphone and tablet users. Apple’s iPhone and iPad won’t support the service, just like they don’t support a similar game-streaming service from Google.

The reason for that is unknown, but Apple’s inability to take a cut of what Microsoft charges for its subscription service is a likely reason.

Apple takes a 30% cut of App Store sales, and services like Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Google’s Stadia circumvent Apple’s ability to take that cut since they operate outside of the App Store. 

That said, services like Netflix, Hulu, and Spotify can be paid for outside of Apple’s network, and Apple collects no fee for their use. Apple classifies these type of apps as “Reader” or “Cross Platform” apps, and allows them to skirt Apple’s fee for the benefit of users:

Apple App Store policies

Apple’s App Store policies don’t make clear why services like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Google Stadia aren’t available.


Apple



It’s unclear how apps like Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and Google Stadia differ from services like Netflix and Hulu, and Apple isn’t saying — we never heard back on a request for comment.

Similarly, Microsoft isn’t saying much about the situation. In a statement issued to The Verge, a rep said, “It’s our ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices.”

Beyond that ambition, though, it’s unclear what will convince Apple to clear the way for video game streaming services on Apple devices.

Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (bgilbert@businessinsider.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.

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Disclosure: Mathias Döpfner, CEO of Business Insider’s parent company, Axel Springer, is a Netflix board member.

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