Toggle Dark Mode
After strict App Store policies that kept game streaming services off its mobile devices for years, Apple opened up a small gateway into the outer courts of its walled garden earlier this year, and gaming companies have jumped at the opportunity to set up shop on iPhones and iPads by whatever means are available to them.
While players like Nvidia’s GeForce Now and Google’s Stadia had long avoided the App Store battlefront entirely, Microsoft was much more willing to test the waters, releasing a beta of its Project xCloud earlier this year. Unfortunately, however, when xCloud became Xbox Game Pass, the iOS version was shelved due to an inability to meet Apple’s rules when it came to third-party catalogue and streaming apps.
For Apple’s part, it’s always stuck to its guns that every game published on the App Store has to be done separately, so the “Netflix for Games” vision of Microsoft and others — a single app that would hold a catalog of dozens, or even hundreds, of games — simply isn’t possible.
After Microsoft threw up its hands in exasperation earlier this year, however, Apple changed course ever-so-slightly, opening the door to allowing game streaming services under very specific conditions. The first was only a very slight modification of the policy on publishing every game as an individual app — something that Microsoft and others still found untenable — while the other was to remind everybody that browser-based games were an option.
To be fair, building games on the open web had always been an option, as Apple has never regulated what’s available via the Safari browser on the iPhone and iPad, at least not beyond the obvious security and privacy features that are common to pretty much every browser these days.
Once Apple explicitly spelled this out, however, game streaming service developers were quick to rise to the occasion, with Amazon’s new Luna service being one of the first to become available, while also serving as confirmation that Apple really and truly was okay with the browser-based approach — Apple’s Safari engineers worked closely with Amazon’s Luna engineers to help put it all together.
Meanwhile, Nvidia had already been making plans for a browser-based version of its GeForce Now service intended primarily to target Chromebooks, which was easily extended to support any WebRTC compliant browser, including Safari on iOS.
However, it looks like Microsoft, which ironically started the whole thing in the first place, will be the last to come on board with its Xbox Game Pass; it’s announced that it’s coming, but not until early next year.
How to Play Cyberpunk 2077 on iPhone or iPad
Now it looks like Google is the third major game streaming service to come to the iPhone and iPad. After announcing last month that a mobile web beta would be coming soon, the company has actually turned the key on it today, and users can head right over to stadia.google.com in Safari on an iPad or iPhone to jump right in.
While touch controls are technically supported, most of the games on Stadia weren’t designed for them, so realistically you’ll require a controller to play most games. Apple added support for PlayStation 4 and Xbox controllers in iOS 13 last year — here’s how to pair one up — and it’s been expanding that support even further in iOS 14.
As with other game streaming services, Stadia is essentially a cloud-based console, so you’ll have to either buy premium games individually, although many popular games that are otherwise only available on consoles like the Xbox and PS4, like Cyberpunk 2077 and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla, can be purchased on Stadia and streamed from the cloud to your iPhone or iPad browser.
Alternatively, you can subscribe to Stadia Pro for $9.99/month to access a library of existing games, and Ubisoft has also announced that its Ubisoft+ subscription service is rolling out in beta to users in the U.S. and should hopefully be expanding further in the new year.
At this point, however, most of the games available on Stadia are full console-level titles, which means that they really aren’t ideal for iPhone gamers, although many of them do look and play great on the larger iPad screen, assuming you have a reasonably fast enough Wi-Fi connection to handle the high-resolution graphics.