The era of cloud gaming hadn’t arrived with the intensity that may have seemed imminent a couple years ago when major tech platforms announced their plays. In 2021, the market is still pretty much nonexistent despite established presences from nearly all of tech’s most prominent players.
Microsoft has been slow to roll out its Xbox Cloud Gaming beta to its users widely across platforms, but that’s likely because they know that there’s not a massive advantage to them rushing out the gate first, unlike other upstart platforms. This week, the company will begin rolling out the service on iOS and PC to Game Pass Ultimate users, sending out invites to a limited number of users and scaling it up over time.
“The limited beta is our time to test and learn; we’ll send out more invites continuously to players in all 22 supported countries, evaluate feedback, continue to improve the experience, and add support for more devices,” wrote Xbox’s Catherine Gluckstein in a blog post. “Our plan is to iterate quickly and open up to all Xbox Game Pass Ultimate members in the coming months, so more people have the opportunity to play Xbox in all-new ways.”
Since last year, the service has been available in beta for Android users, but it’s been a slow expansion to other platforms outside that world.
A big part of that slowdown has resulted from Apple playing hardball with cloud gaming platform providers, whose business models represent a significant threat to App Store gaming revenues. Apple announced a carve-out provision for cloud-gaming platforms to maintain dependency on the App Store and in-app purchase frameworks. Still, none of the providers seemed very happy with Apple’s solution. As a result, Xbox Cloud Gaming will operate entirely through the web on iOS inside mobile Safari.