Apple Blocking Xbox’s xCloud on iOS is Laughable
Apple had some reasons as to why they are not allowing Xbox's xCloud on iOS devices and they are either not the truth or just laughable.
Sometimes there are decisions made that would make someone scratch their head. For example, putting mayonnaise on a hot dog. You wouldn’t do it, but we all know that one guy who does. It’s not a big deal, but it does make you question: what other weird stuff is this person into? Then there are those absolutely downright disgusting decisions that make you want to cut that person out of your life entirely, like that one friend that went way deep into a pyramid scheme after high school. Who wants to be associated with that guy? Well, Apple might have made a decision that could cut ties with many of its user base. Instead of the decision of selling Herbalife, Apple has decided to block access to Microsoft’s new game streaming service, xCloud.
For those of you unaware, last week Microsoft announced that beginning in September, xCloud would be tied to the Xbox Game Pass service and any subscriber would be able to play the entire Game Pass catalog on their Android device. Sounds great, right? The issue is that it is only coming to Android devices in September, and Microsoft confirmed that Apple is essentially blocking them from releasing the streaming service on iOS devices.
I am usually one to say let a company decide what they want to enforce when it is within reason. Walmart making masks mandatory during a global pandemic? That’s a “hell yeah” from me. McDonald’s only bringing the McRib back for limited times? Bummer, but they have to drive the hype up somehow. Apple blocking xCloud from coming to iOS devices? I can only think of one reason why it would do that.
So that reasoning? Here it is, straight from an Apple spokesperson:
“The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers. Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.”
There are a couple of things in that quote that are either flat out not true or just dumb, stupid, idiotic, and many other words I can’t think of right now. I would like to get into all of the anecdotes, but first, let’s get into the major one: specifically why Apple decided to deny Microsoft’s xCloud from releasing on the App Store.
Based on that quote, we can interpret that the reasoning behind the decision made is that Apple can’t review each game that comes to xCloud; this essentially would be every game that comes to Xbox Game Pass. I would like to think that Apple is being a nice parent to all of us iOS children and graciously reviewing all of the content before we get our little hands on it to make sure it is safe. It’s like how a parent would make sure a cut of meat is cooked thoroughly before letting their child eat it. But that is either a lie or an extreme downplay of the real reason. Apple is letting us eat our chicken raw.
First of all, Apple doesn’t review every piece of content that comes to Netflix, or Hulu, or Amazon Video. So what is the difference between that and xCloud? They are both streaming services that offer subscription services. Both have content geared to children and adults. Both are rated by trusted companies before they are released. There is no difference between the two, other than one plays movies or TV shows, and the other plays video games. To me, saying that you can’t review each game is almost a dumb reason solely because there are already bodies and companies that can do that work for you. Microsoft even stated that Apple treats games differently than other apps that can be found on the App Store.
Secondly, what makes that quote even dumber is that the review process already put in place for games on the App Store is a laughing stock. Apple is telling me that Gears 5 can’t come to the iOS platform through xCloud but this quite obvious Fall Guys ripoff can? How about all of the over thousands upon thousands of utter trash that is already on the platform? I am not here to just dunk on the App Store, but if Apple is going to say that there is “a review process” that must go through the App Store then maybe, you know, actually review some of the content? Actually say “we’re good” to some of these trash mobile games.
I am going to let you in on a little secret: Apple doesn’t actually care about reviewing those games. This is entirely about money and Apple getting their cut from xCloud. For starters, Apple probably doesn’t want iPhone owners to stop purchasing games on the App Store because they are playing all of their games on xCloud. And to be fair, I think we could possibly see that happen. When connected to a reliable internet connection, xCloud works incredibly well and will only get better once the servers are swapped with guts from the Xbox Series X rather than the Xbox One.
On top of that, Apple has some strict limitations on applications similar to xCloud, such as taking a whopping 30 percent of revenue from subscriptions created on the iOS device. Oh yeah, Apple also makes those apps include sign-up options as well, basically ensuring that 30 percent cut. I can guarantee that Microsoft and Google both do not want to fork over that much money to one of their competitors.
It has been so egregious that it led Epic Games, the developers behind Fortnite, to essentially disregard the 30 percent cut, include a cheaper option to buy V-Bucks that gives the money directly to them, get banned from the App Store (and now the Google Play Store as well), launch an in-game event mocking Apple, then filed a lawsuit against the mega-corporation.
It is truly some wild stuff. I still have some problems with how Epic Games is handling all of this still. The hashtag #FreeFortnite is something Epic did themselves; they knew it was going to get dropped from the storefronts, so the phrase seems a little misleading. They also hinted in the lawsuit at the possibility of opening their own store on iPhones. This all could just be a ploy for them to shoehorn another store on iOS devices. Finally, I just feel a little gross hoping one multi-billion dollar company takes down another multi-billion dollar company while a global pandemic is occurring. However, if Epic really is in it for the developers and gamers, then good on them.
What I find entirely unfair about this decision by Apple is that they are restricting users from using a service that they pay for. If you are an Xbox Game Pass subscriber, you will pay for xCloud because it is included in your subscription starting in September. And what I find even more unfair is that iPhone users make up 45% of all smartphone users. Just last year Apple stated that there are 1.4 billion active Apple devices, and that number has probably grown even more. Think about that; Apple is blocking Microsoft to do business with over 1 billion people. That is a whole lot of money that they are potentially missing out on.
While the decision by Apple is frustrating, one of these companies will cave at some point. If the success of xCloud absolutely skyrockets and everyone and their mothers are deciding to hook up an Xbox controller to their Android and chop up some onions in Overcooked, then Microsoft might join the likes of Netflix and Spotify and provide Apple with that 30 percent cut. If Apple notices that it is losing money because everyone is jumping ship to play xCloud, I am sure it would allow the app to release on iOS devices. The only thing is: how long until that happens? I am not too sure, but one thing I can guarantee is that it will not be anytime soon.