Microsoft issued a statement Thursday evening calling out Apple for its App Store policies amid a controversy over the Redmond, Wash. tech giant’s new cloud gaming service.
At the time, Microsoft did not provide an explanation for why its iOS test ended early. But now the company is making its stance known. Here’s the full statement:
“Our testing period for the Project xCloud preview app for iOS has expired. Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store. Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content. All games available in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated for content by independent industry ratings bodies such as the ESRB and regional equivalents. We are committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform. We believe that the customer should be at the heart of the gaming experience and gamers tell us they want to play, connect and share anywhere, no matter where they are. We agree.” – Microsoft spokesperson
Earlier on Thursday, Apple told Business Insider that the reason for not allowing xCloud on the App Store is related to not being able to review each game.
Not having xCloud available to iOS users would be a big roadblock for Microsoft’s cloud gaming ambitions. The service, similar to Google’s Stadia offering, lets users play high-powered Xbox games such as Halo on their smartphones.
Microsoft has criticized Apple for the tight control it exercises over its App Store. Microsoft President Brad Smith told Politico in June that the time has come “for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and tolls that are being extracted, and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created.”
Apple CEO Tim Cook was asked to testify before Congress last week on antitrust issues along with the chief executives of Amazon, Facebook, and Google. Cook was grilled on Apple’s decision to remove screen time and parental control apps from its App Store, just after the tech giant released its own competing feature as part of iOS 12.
Apple has its own gaming subscription service called Apple Arcade.
The Information reported that Microsoft’s Smith advised the House antitrust subcommittee on competition in the tech industry and took the opportunity to call out Apple’s current practices.
The House subcommittee did not ask Microsoft to testify at the hearing; the company has largely escaped the antitrust scrutiny its peers are experiencing, having faced its own investigation in the late 1990s and early 2000s. But Microsoft’s bid for the wildly popular social media app TikTok could put the company back in the hot seat.
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