It’s time to allow Xbox Game Pass as an actual app.
I’m tired of Apple’s excuses for not allowing Xbox Cloud Gaming (and game streaming services like it) on the App Store. Microsoft announced that it is bringing the Xbox app to 2022 Samsung TVs, enabling gamers to play over 100 cloud games without the need for a console.
Stream Xbox games directly on your TV, no console required
— Xbox (@Xbox) June 9, 2022
It’s an awesome idea. While the console will always have a place for lower latency, better graphics, and other benefits, sometimes you just want to sit back and play a less intensive game in bed, in your office, or wherever else in your house you might have a television.
However, in order to play Xbox on the TV, most of us have had to make a choice if we want to buy multiple consoles for all of our televisions. It’s safe to say that, for most of us, that has not happened and we’ve resigned to sticking with playing on the one screen our one console has always been hooked up to.
While the Samsung TV integration is the first to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to a television without the need for a console, it certainly will not be the last. More brands and more models are sure to follow over the coming months and years as Microsoft has already said that it is exploring more TV partnerships.
There’s another place that the company is likely to explore outside of televisions themselves: media players. While plenty of people have televisions and Microsoft could worry about designing the Xbox app for every make and model out there, it could also build the Xbox app for a small number of media players and bring the experience to any television with an HDMI port.
Streaming devices, such as the Roku, Fire TV, and Apple TV, are some of the most popular around and find themselves in millions upon millions of houses. It’s not surprising that people are choosing external streaming devices, especially since most built-in TV operating systems and their interfaces are slow and clunky. Despite the rumors that Microsoft is also developing its own Xbox Cloud Gaming streaming stick, other streaming devices are prime real estate for bringing the Xbox app to as many TVs as possible.
Unfortunately, while the Xbox app could surely come to a platform like the Roku or Fire TV, it is currently still impossible to do so with the Apple TV. Apple, like two years ago, still prevents an app that allows multiple game titles within it from existing on the App Store. As the company explained, games must be submitted individually for review:
“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.”
While this effectively prevents game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass (and with it Xbox Cloud Gaming) to exist in the form of an app on the iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, Apple still moved forward with its own game subscription service that runs through the App Store: Apple Arcade. While Apple technically followed its own rules as each game exists as a separate app, it also enjoys the luxury of setting up Apple Arcade as its own tab in the App Store, something that competing gaming services don’t have as an option.
iPhone, iPad, and Mac users have been able to bypass the App Store and access Xbox Game Cloud through Safari (which anyone will tell you is not an acceptable solution that Apple is forcing upon us), but that option does not exist because a Safari app does not exist on Apple TV.
The part that makes the lack of an Xbox Cloud Gaming app on Apple TV even more infuriating is that the Apple TV already supports the Xbox Wireless Controller (as does the iPhone, iPad, and Mac). The idea that the future of Xbox, which Xbox Cloud Gaming will be a large part of, isn’t currently allowed on a streaming device that advertises support for the service’s controller is just…bonkers.
Of course, Xbox Cloud Gaming has a while to go before it’s available on all of the things — but once it is, the Apple TV is going to stick out like a sore thumb. If that’s the way it goes, it will just be one more reason Apple continues to struggle to be seen as a serious player in the gaming industry.