Leaked Emails Show Would-Be Apple and Microsoft App Store Teamup

Xbox-exclusives on the iPhone?

There’s Coke and there’s Pepsi, but what would happen if these two corporate giants became best buds and released some kind of franken-cola? That almost happened with Microsoft and Apple. 

Microsoft nearly struck a deal with Apple to release a slew of Xbox-exclusive games on the App Store, according to leaked Apple emails unearthed by The Verge. These would not have been stripped down mobile versions of popular franchises, like a match 3 Halo game or whatever, but rather the full legitimate releases running on iPhones and iPads. 

Xbox Apple Teamup

Alexandru Acea

How is this possible? It’s all about Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) platform, which can stream AAA titles remotely from a server farm. If this deal had been finalized, you could have, theoretically, purchased Halo Infinite on Apple’s App Store and played it right on your phone without having to spring for an Xbox Game Pass. 

According to February 2020 emails, however, Microsoft Xbox head of business development Lori Wright expressed some concern over the end-user experience of such a move. 

Wright said some of the issues with the convergence could create confusion for consumers and an overall frustrating experience compared to games running on the native platform.

Apple’s App Store guidelines eventually got the better of these negotiations, with talks breaking down in September 2020. Microsoft said that a particular sticking point was that Apple wanted each game to open as an individual app, with no universal point of entry or single umbrella app. 

Xbox Cloud Gaming CVP Kareen Choudry noted that Apple eventually rejected their proposals for a Game Pass-like app on the App Store, and that was that.

Of course, iPads and iPhones lack—you know—buttons, so that would have likely been another issue down the line.

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