Apple repeatedly rejected Xbox games from the App Store
A series of e-mails discovered and published by The Verge reveals that Apple repeatedly rejected Microsoft's efforts to make its exclusive Xbox game titles available in the iOS App Store, even after Microsoft conceded to some of its conditions.
Last year, Microsoft had spent a long time trying to reason with Apple to allow Xbox games to be downloaded from the App Store, even going so far as to offer to make available some of its most popular Xbox-exclusive titles to iOS users, if Apple would collaborate.
This would have most certainly worked in Apple's favor to rake in additional revenue, and would also have given iPhone and iPad users the convenience of being able to download some of the most popular games on any platform, right onto their favorite Apple device.
However, Apple had stubbornly refused, laying out a set of App Store guidelines that went fully against Microsoft's Xbox business model, and in the end left Microsoft on its own to seek alternative solutions.
The e-mail exchange shows that at first, Apple had informed Microsoft that in order to be accepted into the App Store on iOS, it would need to individualize its apps and offer them separately, rather than in a bundle such as through the Game Pass, and thus clutter people's devices and home screens.
It turns out that Microsoft had actually shared Apple's concern and conceded, offering to convert all of its games into hundreds of thousands of individual, pint-sized apps from which App Store clients could pick and choose at their will. The packages would only download the software strictly necessary to play the game, which Microsoft said would have been around 30MB per game.
And, Microsoft had proffered, if a user wanted to stream a game they were playing, they would need to download the Game Pass app, which would be offered separately on the App Store. This would allow Apple devices to stream gameplay by harnessing the power of their Xbox rather than their iPhone or iPad, and stream via remote servers.
That was where Apple had fully ceased co-operating, however. The company declared that this went against their App Store Guidelines, which disallowed apps to use in-app purchase to "unlock additional features or functionality within an app." Instead, Apple insisted that Microsoft integrate its bulky streaming tech into each of the thousands of single apps, burdening devices far more than is technically necessary.
Microsoft argued that this would significantly increase the size of the game apps, as it would go up from roughly 30 MB each to 150 MB—a five-fold leap. This would only inconvenience users rather than simplify their experience, as not everyone wants to stream the games they play, but neither would avid streamers need a separate bundle of identical streaming tech in every single app.
“If we have a single streaming tech app, it will be around 150 MB, but the other apps will only be roughly 30 MB and will not need to be updated when the streaming tech is updated. This will be a better experience for users,” wrote Lori Wright, Microsoft Xbox Head of Business Development.
After the continued rejection, Microsoft ended up going their own way and building a Safari browser-based solution for bringing Xbox Cloud Gaming to Apple users.
However, in its statement to The Verge about the whole debacle, Microsoft has said that they will "continue to look for viable resolutions that allow us into the App Store." Apple may need to really thinking about cutting back a little on their exacting App Store regulations for that to happen.
And it may be in the Cupertino company's interest to do so, as Apple's gaming-related apps are consistently bringing in more revenue than any other category, and it only makes sense for Apple to endeavor to expand the already lucrative category it boasts by seeking a greater degree of collaboration with Microsoft.