Xbox Game Store iOS and Android launch date revealed – but there's still a mystery

Xbox mobile gaming on iPhones, iPads and Androids is nearly here, but it won't be an app

Xbox cloud gaming
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Last year, Microsoft said that it really wanted to bring Xbox gaming to iPhones, iPads and Android devices. And it's about to deliver just that. The Xbox mobile games store will arrive on iOS and Android this July – but despite the EU's move to make Apple open up iOS to gaming apps, it's not going to be an app.

That's according to 9to5google, reporting on Xbox president Sarah Bond's presentation to the Bloomberg Technology Summit this week. Bond confirmed that the Xbox mobile game store will launch on the two rival platforms this July, and also confirmed that "the Xbox game store won't be launching as a native app." Rather, the store will "start on the web".

So what does that mean for your mobile games?

When the Xbox game store app isn't an app

According to Microsoft, the reason for the web focus is so that it can distribute its store worldwide on "all devices". That's a not-so-subtle dig at Apple: while Apple has opened things up a little bit in Europe, it hasn't done the same in the rest of the world and probably won't without similar regulatory pressure. Microsoft, understandably, doesn't want to make an app that's only available to customers in a few countries. Hence the web.

That's the "where" of the app. What we don't know yet is the "how": how will these games be delivered? Once again the issue here is Apple, because while Apple allows sideloading on iOS it only allows it in the EU. So it seems highly likely that what Microsoft is offering here, at least to begin with, is more cloud gaming rather than stand-alone gaming apps.

For the kind of apps Microsoft is talking about, that shouldn't be a problem: I've found cloud gaming can be disappointing with bigger games, but according to Microsoft the launch line-up includes the likes of Minecraft and Candy Crush, neither of which are particularly taxing on the hardware or bandwidth fronts. However if Microsoft is going to be basing these games in the cloud, you're still going to need a pretty solid data connection in order to enjoy them. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (