Last year, Microsoft’s Project xCloud launched a preview of its ambitious game streaming service which aims to deliver games to any screen — console, PC or mobile. The service, however, has only been available on Android for mobile users until now. Today, that changes as Microsoft is bringing the Project xCloud preview to iOS devices by way of Apple’s TestFlight program.
Microsoft had been testing xCloud on iOS internally but had yet to open it up to the public. Unfortunately, the iOS test will be limited. As is standard with Apple’s TestFlight platform, the new build will be limited to only 10,000 testers.
That’s not likely to be enough places to meet demand, Microsoft admits and says first-come, first-serve invites will be distributed. To get around the restriction, Microsoft is preparing to boot out some early testers during the public beta to make room for new testers.
“Those who are accepted into the iOS TestFlight preview may not necessarily participate for the full duration of the preview,” the company explains via a blog post. “As noted earlier, there are limited spaces available, so for testing purposes, we may need to cycle through registrants in order to best utilize the available testing audience. This also means that even if you miss out on the initial allocation, you might receive an invitation to participate later in the preview,” it says.
The iOS preview will also be limited to only one game: “Halo: The Master Chief Collection.” In addition, this particular test won’t include the preview of Xbox Console Streaming as the Android test currently does.
To qualify, testers will need a Microsoft account associated with their Xbox Gamertag; an iPhone or iPad running iOS 13.0 or higher and Bluetooth v. 4.0; a Bluetooth-enabled Xbox One Wireless Controller; access to Wi-Fi or a mobile data connection that supports 10 Mbps-down bandwidth; and, optionally, a third-party controller mount for phone-based games (like this one).
The move to bring console-quality games to smartphones marks a change in the gaming strategy for Microsoft. The company understands that it can only sell so many consoles, for starters, but mobile phones are everywhere. Furthermore, people today want to play games on any available device – not just the big home TV screen. And for some users, mobile is their only screen.
Meanwhile, cross-platform gaming is becoming increasingly popular, thanks to titles like Fortnite, Minecraft, Roblox, PUBG and others, which proved that mobile experiences can match consoles.
Microsoft’s Project xCloud aims to make it easier for developers to build games that work everywhere. This is no small task, as it required Microsoft to architect a new customizable blade that hosts the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure needed to support it. It also needs to ensure the technology can deliver games at console speeds with low latency, so mobile users don’t feel like they’re getting a second-rate experience.
Instructions on how to access the TestFlight here.