Microsoft has fully opened up its Xbox Cloud Gaming platform to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers on Apple iOS devices and Windows PCs via browsers, the company announced Monday. Xbox Cloud Gaming, also known as xCloud, was previously available only to Android device users, though an invite-only beta period opened this year for certain Apple and Windows 10 users.
Now, any Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscriber can access the service through the Xbox website via www.xbox.com/play. From there, players can access a selection of games directly in their browser, with some options available between controller or touch-based play. With this announcement, Microsoft also said it’s improved the cloud gaming experience by upgrading its data centers with “custom Xbox Series X hardware.” Catherine Gluckstein, Xbox Cloud Gaming vice president and head of product, said this translates to “faster load times, improved frame rates, and an experience of a new generation of gaming.” Xbox Cloud Gaming streams at 1080p up to 60 frames per second, she said.
Microsoft appears to be focusing its efforts toward cloud gaming as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate — a way to make games more accessible to people who don’t have access to a high-end gaming computer or console. It’s beginning to focus on cloud native gaming, with Portal and Left 4 Dead developer Kim Swift joining the Xbox Cloud Gaming team as a senior director and building out a team centered around new cloud-based experiences.
One of the major problems, however, has been Microsoft’s inability to break onto Apple devices. Apple’s App Store guidelines previously barred cloud-based gaming services from launching on its devices, but new rules were issued in 2020 that technically opened the gate to Microsoft and other platforms. Microsoft responded at the time that Apple’s rules made “a bad experience for customers.”
Instead of creating a catalog-based app that individually linked out to games, Microsoft opted to run its Xbox Cloud Gaming service on iOS devices via browsers — something that allowed it to skirt App Store rules.