Google on Thursday announced iOS support for its Stadia cloud gaming service, following in the footsteps of Microsoft in turning to the mobile web to circumvent Apple’s App Store restrictions. Google says it has been building a progressive web app version of Stadia that will run in the mobile version of Apple’s Safari browser, similar to how Microsoft intends to deliver its competing xCloud service on iOS sometime next year.
But Google intends to beat Microsoft to the punch with public testing of its version in the coming weeks. Nvidia also announced today that it a beta web app version of its GeForce Now cloud gaming service on iOS is available today.
Apple in late August clarified its rules around cloud gaming, telling providers like Google and Microsoft that their apps were not allowed on the App Store due to restrictions Apple imposes on software that streams games to the iPhone and iPad. Apple eventually loosened its restrictions after public criticism from Microsoft and others, but the App Store still requires companies to submit individual games for App Store review. Microsoft called the compromise a “bad experience for consumers” before deciding it would develop a web app version of xCloud for iOS instead. Now, Google is doing the same.
The iOS testing announcement coincides with Stadia’s one-year anniversary of its public launch last fall. Google also announced today that its first slate of free-to-play games would be coming to Stadia, following the reveal earlier this week that the base version of Bungie’s Destiny 2 would no longer require a $10 per month Stadia Pro subscription and can now be played by anyone with a Google account that signs up for Stadia. And State Share, the streamer-friendly Stadia feature that allows players to share their exact point in a game with viewers or followers on social media, will be launching next January with the release of IO Interactive’s Hitman 3.
Google is also using its one-year anniversary as an opportunity to tout fresh Stadia statistics. The company won’t yet reveal how many people have signed up for Stadia or subscribed to its Pro service. But the company says it’s introduced more than 80 games in the last 12 months to the platform, with plans to support more than 135 titles by the end of the year. It’s also added more than 100 new features to the platform in the last 12 months, including family sharing for the first time earlier this month.
That library also includes more than 50 Stadia Pro games that have been made available for free since the service’s launch, with more than 30 active titles available as of this month. (Some games are added to Stadia Pro for a limited time before they are removed, similar to limited giveaways of games as part of Sony’s PlayStation Plus and Microsoft’s Xbox Live Gold subscriptions.)
To celebrate the upcoming launch of CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077, Google is also running a rather excellent promotion: preordering the game before December 10th or buying the released version before December 17th will get you a Stadia Premiere Edition bundle, which includes the Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra for streaming Stadia to a television. The promotion is just while supplies last, though, and Google isn’t saying how many units it will be giving out. So it’s perhaps a good idea to preorder early if you’re interested in making Stadia the platform you use to play Cyberpunk 2077.