UPDATE: New reports from The Verge suggest Apple is to blame for Project xCloud not releasing on iOS. Microsoft is apparently halting xCloud testing due to iOS policy restrictions.
Microsoft has set a firm September beta rollout date for its innovative Project xCloud streaming service.
Starting September 11, every Game Pass Ultimate subscriber will be able to stream games to their mobile phones at no extra cost. Right now this only includes streaming Game Pass games, not games you already own, and is exclusive to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers. Microsoft has made plans to turn every Xbox One console into a remote game streaming platform, but that availability isn't included with this beta test.
The biggest limitation is the Android exclusivity, at least for right now. As Omdia senior analyst George Jijiashvili notes, Microsoft will miss out on the massive iPhone userbase. Apple managed to sell 200 million iPhones in 2019 alone, and generated a record $26 billion in iPhone sales in Q3'20 alone.
"Lack iOS support for xCloud at launch is a massive elephant in the room. Apple has already impeded Stadia and NVIDIA GeForce Now. Microsoft can't afford to miss out: 200 million iPhones shipped in 2019 + iOS users are on average more affluent & spend more on games,"Jijiashvili said.
Here's what you need to know about the new Project xCloud test:
- It's a beta test, not the real thing -Microsoft's Project xCloud platform is still a fledgling service and very much in active development, so expect bugs and hitches.
- Only available on Android phones and tablets - The beta test is only up for Android devices right now, and should roll out to iOS and even Chromebooks soon enough.
- Free for Game Pass Ultimate subscribers -No extra cost for anyone who's bought into Game Pass Ultimate.
- Includes all Game Pass games - Project xCloud is a platform/delivery mechanism that will connect to Game Pass and stream all available games to Android mobile tablets and phones
- Project xCloud will have cross-play with consoles - One person can play on their phone, and another can play on console right in the same room.
- Microsoft is making custom accessories for mobiles - There's the Razer Kishi, and the new PowerA MOGA XP7-X Plus Bluetooth Controller that'll be optimized for Project xCloud streaming (link).
Cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate will be available on Android devices in 22 markets at launch, including Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Spain, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.