Microsoft's cloud gaming may not be the only way to enjoy Xbox games on your iPhone. Microsoft is dropping strong hints that a game store for iOS could be coming in the not too distant future – but it's also ruling out any moves to bring Game Pass to its rivals' consoles, at least for now.
Microsoft's Xbox head Phil Spencer was speaking at the CCXP event in Brazil, and in an interview he talked about the possibility of a phone-based Xbox game store. "It is an important part of our strategy and something we are actively working on today not only alone but talking to other partners who’d also like to see more choice for how they can monetise on the phone," he said. In order to keep Xbox relevant for the decade or two to come, "we're going to have to be strong across many screens."
Apple has long operated a walled garden in its app store, charging hefty fees of 30% for purchases and most in-app purchases. But that's changing: the EU has mandated that Apple allow third party app purchasing, and that's coming in Europe in March 2024. Although Apple is challenging the law it's widely expected to lose, and that's an opportunity for the likes of Microsoft.
Xbox on iPhone? Yes. Game Pass on PS5? That's a nope
That's the good news. But there's bad news for anyone hoping that Game Pass will make it to rival consoles. In an exclusive interview with our sibling site Windows Central, Spencer ruled out a PS5 or Switch version of Game Pass. Despite Microsoft's stated goal to bring Game Pass to any screen that can play games "we have no plans to bring Game Pass to PlayStation or Xbox," he said.
While Game Pass is "an important part of the Xbox console identity" Microsoft sees other options such as Xbox Cloud Gaming, cross play and cross save as a better fit for rival hardware. Spencer was particularly enthusiastic about handhelds such as the ASUS ROG Ally. "I want Xbox to be a brand, that shows up on our Xbox app, but also while making sure our games are compatible with Steam Deck, ROG Ally, Legion Go, and while making sure they are great on our Xbox console line up... I'm very bullish on where we can go with cloud, but it doesn't diminish the local run time experience that we want to have on Xbox consoles and Windows PCs."