Good news for the number of Google Stadia fans out there: it will finally be playable on iPhones. But to circumvent Apple’s App Store restrictions, the game streaming service will work on iOS through a web app – and it’ll start testing the method in the next several weeks, per Polygon (opens in new tab).
Apple has kept game streaming services off the App Store unless they meet strict requirements – including giving Apple purview over which games are allowed in each service’s catalogue along with the storefront’s usual 30% tithe of in-app and subscription purchases. Google’s workaround involves running the service through a progressive web app, essentially routing play through the Safari browser instead of a dedicated app.
This is exactly the method that other game streaming services are planning to use. While Stadia won’t start testing for several weeks, Nvidia’s GeForce Now service surprise launched (opens in new tab) in beta today with the iOS web app workaround, Amazon Luna will use it when the service opens up in the near future, and Microsoft is allegedly planning (opens in new tab) to use with its xCloud streaming tech, which may come out for iPhones and iPads in 2021.
The GeForce Now workaround will finally allow iPhone users to play Fortnite, as The Verge (opens in new tab) points out, though it’ll be a bit of an onerous process as Nvidia and Epic refine touch controls. Thus the likely consequence of working around the App Store: minimal Apple support, if any.
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Stadia: new year, new life?
Google’s announcement coincides with the first anniversary of Stadia, which hasn’t been widely embraced by gamers. But a few new perks (along with some long-promised ones) could sweeten the deal enough for the service to win over players.
First of these is an unspecified number of free-to-play games coming to Stadia – chief among them Destiny 2, which won’t require the $10 monthly Stadia Pro subscription to play, per The Verge (opens in new tab). The novel State Share feature, which allows players to share a game state letting others (like friends or stream viewers) jump in right where they are, is coming in January 2021.
Stadia Pro still faces stiff competition from services like Microsoft Game Pass regarding game catalogues: Google’s platform currently has around 30 titles (some have come and gone as licenses expire), while Microsoft’s has north of 200. But if Stadia – which has been available on Android since its launch – can beat competitors to iOS, that could be a helpful edge for a community of gamers that have been locked out of any game streaming due to Apple’s restrictive policies.
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