• Microsoft games boss Phil Spencer wants to bring Game Pass to iOS devices by next year, a report says
  • Apple hasn't allowed streaming game services in the past because it couldn't review each title in the catalog
  • A former Apple App Store director claimed Apple doesn't want competition for its own Arcade service

Microsoft could bring its Xbox Game Pass to Apple devices by 2021, according to a new report.

Business Insider reported, citing sources with "direct knowledge of his comments," that games boss Phil Spencer told Microsoft employees at an all-hands meeting on Wednesday, "We will absolutely end up on iOS."

Game Pass is a video game subscription service launched in 2017 where players pay $9.99 monthly to have access to a catalog of games from various publishers. Often compared to Netflix, Game Pass adds and withdraws games for certain periods of time.

It is available to Xbox and PC gamers, but with the launch of Project xCloud last month, Game Pass subscribers can now stream many of the service’s titles to their Android phones or tablets as well without the need for a console.

However, when xCloud was launched, it was clearly missing support for Apple devices in the form of the iPhone and iPad.

In this latest development, Spencer told employees that he is exploring getting Game Pass to iOS devices through their respective browsers, per the report.

In July, Spencer said that Microsoft has no plans to bring Game Pass to Nintendo or Sony consoles. Even though Spencer would like to take Game Pass everywhere, he said that PC and mobile can deliver an undiluted Xbox experience for players, which would not be possible on the Switch or PlayStation.

Earlier this year, an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider that streaming apps like Game Pass and Google Stadia are not allowed on Apple devices because the company is not able to review each game in the respective libraries of those streaming services.

Apple has since indicated that Game Pass and Stadia would be allowed to offer game streaming services on their devices only if they go through the meticulous process of submitting each individual title in the catalog as its own app.

By tapping browsers, however, a way to get around that barrier may have been discovered.

Another likely reason for Apple previously blocking services like Game Pass from its devices is that they compete directly with its own Apple Arcade subscription service. That was the assertion made by former Apple App Store director Phillip Shoemaker during a Congressional subcommittee’s investigation into potentially anti-competitive practices by companies like Apple.

Phil Spencer
Xbox chief Phil Spencer has revealed that Microsoft’s video game unit is shifting its focus toward software. Reuters/Kevork Djansezian