There's no Xbox Project xCloud game streaming for iPhone: Here's why

Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Project xCloud support may be launching next month, but iPhone and iPad owners shouldn't expect to play the streaming games on their devices any time soon, a new explanation from Apple has made clear. Microsoft's new cloud-based gaming service combines Xbox Game Pass with Project xCloud, giving access to over 100 titles on smartphones and tablets for a $14.99 monthly fee.

It was one of Samsung's big collaboration announcements during this week's Galaxy Note 20 unveil, and will take on Google's Stadia on Android phones in September 15. Problem is, Apple devices are left out in the cold.

The exact reasons behind that absence were, until today, unclear. However Apple has confirmed that it's because Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers access to multiple games – which may not have been through the usual App Store approval policy – that Microsoft's app won't be available for iPhone and iPad. On that matter, the Cupertino firm doesn't seem likely to bend.

"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," an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider. "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."

Part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate's charm, however, is that new titles can be added over time, but the $14.99 monthly fee does not change. Players can pick up and leave off gameplay on different devices, including their Xbox consoles. Even though Android phones don't have the processor or graphics grunt to play full console-quality games locally, by running them remotely in the cloud and streaming the gameplay to the mobile devices, Microsoft can work around those hardware limitations.

It's not only Microsoft which has found itself at odds with Apple's App Store policies. Google's Stadia app has been available for some time now, but only on Android devices rather than iOS. Again, that's because like with Microsoft's new system, Google offers access to a portfolio of games without having them individually submitted for Apple's approval.

"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" Apple spokesperson

The irony is that Apple has a game subscription service of its own, Apple Arcade, available on iOS, iPadOS, tvOS, and macOS devices. However titles are installed locally, not streamed from the cloud, and each participating developer submits their game for App Store approval first.

Microsoft, in a statement, said that it is the company's "ambition to scale cloud gaming through Xbox Game Pass available on all devices" but that it had no further comment at present about the possibility of the service on iOS. Unless something significant changes either there or in Cupertino, it looks like iPhone owners may have to give up on ambitions to access their Xbox Game Pass Ultimate games on their phone.