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Microsoft's gaming CEO doesn't think iOS is open enough for Xbox gaming

Microsoft is not bringing Xcloud natively to iPhone

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In a new interview, Microsoft's Phil Spencer discusses how Microsoft is bringing its Xbox titles to new platforms — but he doesn't think they'll find a home on iOS.

Microsoft is expanding beyond its Xbox gaming console and Windows by releasing video games to Nintendo's Switch and Sony's PS5. It makes sense, then, that if the company is trying to get its games into as many hands as possible, it would bring those games natively to the iPhone.

But, that's not the case — at least not yet.

Phil Spencer, Microsoft Gaming's CEO, said in a new interview with The Verge that Apple hasn't given the company an effective way to monetize Xbox games on its platform.

"There's not room for us to monetize Xbox Cloud Gaming on iOS. I think the proposal that Apple put forward — and I thought Sarah Bond's comments on this were right on — doesn't go far enough to open up," he says about the UK Digital Markets Act concessions.

Of course, he doesn't comment on the fact that — as of iOS 17.4 — Apple now allows single app streaming. Apple's change to what's permitted for streaming game services will allow Microsoft to make a "reader" app that would impose no fees beyond what the user purchases in-app.

Ultimately, what Microsoft wants is its own app store, everywhere. Spencer believes that mobile gaming should work more like those on desktop.

"We will continue to work with regulators, and Apple and Google, to create a space for alternative storefronts. I'm a big fan of how Windows works, and you've got a Microsoft Store on Windows, you've got Steam, you've got the Epic Games Store, you've got GOG," he tells the interviewer.

Microsoft has its own walled garden in the Xbox marketplace. It charges a similar fee to game developers that Apple's App Store does.

The company has repeatedly said this is okay because Xbox hardware is sold as a loss-leader. However, there is no provision in US law requiring App Stores to only charge fees if the hardware is subsidized by an app store on the platform.

"You have alternatives, and I think alternative ways for people to buy things creates goodness for consumers and creators," Spencer added.

While Apple doesn't allow alternative marketplaces in the US, the company will allow them soon the European Union with caveats. The move was made to comply with the EU's Digital Markets Act.