So you want to stream some video games from the cloud? Apple hasn’t made that very easy on its devices thanks to some heavy-handed App Store policies, but the open internet is coming to the rescue. Both Nvidia and Google have announced iOS support for their respective cloud gaming platforms via progressive web applications. Apple can’t block that.
This controversy dates back about a year when Google Stadia and Nvidia GeForce Now became available on select mobile devices. Google’s Play Store allowed the streaming apps, but Apple blocked them for dubious reasons. Apple later updated its policies to say that cloud gaming was a-okay as long as providers adhered to the App Store’s draconian rules like creating separate store pages for each game and having all titles approved by Apple for purchase inside the App Store. The company claimed this was about ensuring a level playing field for developers, but it also would have gotten Apple its customary 30 percent cut of sales.
Microsoft already announced that it would bring xCloud to iOS via a web app, but Nvidia is the first to get there. Anyone with an iDevice can get started by heading to the GeForce Now website — you’ll also need a $4.99 monthly subscription. Once you’re logged in, you can import your existing library from Steam, Epic, and other game distribution platforms. Yes, that means Fortnite is back on iOS. The WebRTC-based client can stream the video of your gameplay session and relay your control inputs to the cloud just like a local app. You can pair an Xbox, PS4, or mobile Bluetooth controller with the device. The web app also has touch controls, but they won’t work in all games. And even if they do, you probably don’t want to use them.
Google says its web app version of Stadia for iOS will launch in the coming weeks. Like Nvidia and Microsoft, Google was prevented from launching an iOS Stadia app, and the company seemed caught off-guard. When reviewing Stadia for its launch last year, there was a beta iOS client available for testing. Google was unable to release it on the App Store this whole last year.
When the web version of Stadia launches in the next few weeks, you’ll be able to direct the Safari browser to the Stadia site to stream your games. Unlike Nvidia, Google sells games specifically for Stadia, but Google does let everyone play the base version of Destiny 2 for free. The $10 monthly Stadia Pro subscription adds features like 4K streaming and surround sound.
Apple’s stubbornness has slowed the growth of cloud gaming on its platform, but it’s not stopping it. By early 2021, there should be three cloud gaming services live on iOS via the web.
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