Apple will for long be remembered for its hard stance against allowing Microsoft to put its xCloud game streaming platform on iOS. While the issue continues to pitch Apple fans against people who think Apple is too full of itself, documents related to the Epic v. Apple lawsuit have revealed how far Microsoft was willing to go placate the Cupertino-based company.
Apple had an extensive list of demands for Microsoft to fulfill to get the privilege of allowing iOS users to access xCloud on their devices without jumping through hoops or workarounds.
You would think the issue of a game streaming app is something two trillion-dollar businesses can work out between them but Apple would have none of it.
These revelations came from a string of emails that The Verge browsed after the epic case concluded. Apple is, of course, appealing some parts of the ruling and recently won a stay of execution on the most crucial parts of the judgment.
Microsoft wanted players to run games on its own cloud rather than using the phone’s resources. The game will only be streamed to the player’s device. This allows the player to play even demanding games, regardless of the type or spec of the phone.
Microsoft was ready to accept Apple’s demands and even throw in some AAA games exclusive to Xbox.
During the course of the negotiation, Microsoft pointed out its concerns with repacking all the hundreds of thousands of games in its Xbox collection as individual apps in Apple’s App Store, as Apple demanded. Microsoft explained the complexity of maintaining such a system, like fixing bugs in each game and avoiding cluttering users’ homescreens.
“We believe that the issues described here will create frustration and confusion for customers, resulting in a sub-par experience on Apple devices relative to the equivalent experience on all other platforms,” wrote Microsoft Xbox head of business development, Lori Wright.
Apple was not persuaded by Microsoft’s argument for the user experience. Down the line, Microsoft offered to create the individual apps as Apple wanted, but they should be treated as shortcuts, which would be similar to how watchOS apps worked. Wright showed that the shortcuts will occupy less space and would not have to be updated individually.
This was when Wright offered the AAA Xbox games in addition to the games included in the Game Pass package. However, Apple did not agree, forcing Microsoft to offer xCloud through the web.
Kareem Choudhry, Xbox Cloud Gaming CVP, explained Apple’s stance on Microsoft’s proposal to The Verge and put the blame squarely on Apple:
“Our proposal for bringing games through individual apps was designed to comply with App Store policies. It was denied by Apple based on our request that there be a single streaming tech app to support the individual game apps, as the initial email states. Forcing each game to include our streaming tech stack proved to be unrealistic from a support and engineering perspective and would create an incredibly negative experience for customers.”
Apple tried to change the narrative in its response to The Verge, making it appear Microsoft was trying to avoid giving Apple its now-famous cut of revenue passing through the App Store. The company’s spokesperson said:
“The reasons for rejection were unrelated to in-app purchase capabilities; we currently provide Xbox Cloud Gaming through a singular Xbox Game Pass app in the Google Play Store without IAP enabled, for example, and we would do the same through the App Store if allowed.”
However, Choudry clarified it was not about in-app purchases, using Google as an example of Microsoft’s willingness to pay Apple.
“We explored many options to bring Cloud Gaming via Xbox Game Pass to Apple devices, always in ways that led with the customer experience first, which we believed was best through a singular app. Apple’s Store policies would have forced us to launch each game as an individual app—while we never favored that approach, we explored it as a possibility in the spirit of finding any solution to bring Cloud Gaming to iOS customers. However between that email in March 2020 and our statement to The Verge in September 2020, Apple rejected our proposals and we were left without the ability to release a cohesive Xbox Game Pass offering through the App Store. We shifted our engineering priorities and have now moved to a browser-based solution making Xbox Cloud Gaming available to iOS customers through web browsers, and will continue to look for viable resolutions that allow us into the App Store.”
Source: The Verge