Is cloud gaming coming to iOS?

Sunday, February 28, 2021

If you’ve heard about cloud gaming from a friend, or by reading online, you might be wondering if it’s possible to play on your mobile, tablet, or computer. With a lot of technology in previous decades, there has been a trend for the top companies to withhold their innovations from competitors and their user base.

This meant that for you to use a particular piece of tech, you had to buy it from the company that made it. While this does make sense, as we move forward into more sophisticated and connected platforms and technological ecosystems, it is harder for companies to keep themselves walled in. Apple has for a long time taken a very strong stance on keeping the services available on its platform strictly within their control. However, cloud computing and the Internet of Things means that there has to be more collaboration than there used to be. 

This article will talk more about this subject and answer the question, is cloud gaming coming to iOS? So if you’d like to read more on this topic, we’ve outlined some interesting points below.

What is cloud gaming?

So to get started let's explain what cloud gaming is. Cloud gaming is part of the growing trend in the last decade for more and more of our day to day lives to move into the cloud.  What this means in terms of gaming is that video games are able to be streamed via the internet. Traditionally a piece of hardware, such as a computer or console, is needed to process all of the data required to play a video game effectively. However with cloud gaming, the processing can be done in a location separate from where the player actually is.

With cloud gaming, a powerful server located in a datacenter deals with all the processing requirements for a video game, the actions a player takes is streamed via the internet to the server, the server then processes the information and sends back to the player the game’s response. Without the need for hardware to process the games in the same location as the player, a lot more devices can be used to play games, they just need an internet connection. This means that phones, tablets, and other devices have the potential to play some of your favourite games.

Unfortunately, as described in the introduction to this article, the traditional business models a lot of the big tech companies have operated on doesn’t lend itself to the openness and connectivity that cloud gaming has the potential for. However, this is slowly changing.

What is iOS?

For those of us who didn’t know, iOS stands for iPhone Operation System. It is the operating system that Apple uses in its iPhones, and partially within its iPads. The app store is a primary foundation of the operating system, it allows third parties to create apps that people can use on their iOS devices. Apple strictly controls what is available on the app store and developers must meet their criteria or risk being banned, which will be touched upon later in this article.

Is cloud gaming coming to iOS?

Yes cloud gaming is already on iOS and there is more to come. There has been a bit of worry over the last year whether game streaming platforms will be able to get their games onto iOS because of the App Store guidelines that have to be stringently followed. 

In spring of this year, Microsoft is planning to bring Xbox cloud gaming to iOS. However they have decided to do this by asking users to play via the web browser, this means that they don’t have to follow the App Store guidelines. In a similar fashion, Amazon Luna and Google Stadia are also planning to bring their services to iOS via the web browser as well.

The reasons for these companies asking people to play via the web rather than through a dedicated app is because one of the App Store rules doesn’t allow multiple games to be streamed from one app. They do this to make sure they can keep security tight around their system. Another rule within the App Store forbids an app asking people to make payments outside of Apple’s system, which has caused a massive legal suit between Apple and Epic Games, with Epic Games stating that Apple has a monopoly on a market and is exploiting that to retain dominance over competitors. The arguments are a lot more nuanced than this, but that is a top line overview of the dispute.

It is hugely exciting that multiple big tech companies are making their cloud gaming services available on iOS. Although there is clearly a lot of room for development, particularly around the legal disputes within the industry. Time will tell how these legal battles play out, but the results will have a huge lasting impact on the future of cloud gaming and ecosystems across the web.