Google Stadia is coming to iOS officially as a web app

Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

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.

Comments

I swear I just commented "it’s weird that Nvidia beat Google to this web-app thing" like an hour ago. I guess everybody’s taking Apple up on their (crappy) offer, huh.

Web apps, and the technology behind them have come a long way, especially for PWAs. Plus Stadia has a unique way of running. If you are on your own LAN (Wifi), then the Stadia controller connects up to Googles servers directly. The device used for displaying the actual game screen, is exactly that, a window to a cloud game server. Remote controls are not sent to a Chromecast, Chromebook, laptop, or mobile device (Pixels, iPhone, iPad). So if you use an iPhone with Stadia, then the iPhone display is used for only viewing the game screen, and all the game controller input is sent directly to Googles Stadia servers.

The real problem was always Apples nasty monopolistic controls, rules and policies.

You can’t be a monopoly in the computing industry as a minority in the computing industry. There are over a dozen digital platforms for developers to publish on & even more for them to physically release content if they chose to. It’s perfectly fine to say "I don’t allow A or B in my store" … just because they make the most money, just because they have a lot of influence, it doesn’t mean they are a monopoly. They are far from it. Developers have options & they could opt not to release their products on iOS. And no you can’t have a monopoly over your own devices either, again, there are alternatives. iOS & iPhone are inherently tandem. One has never & won’t ever exist without the other. You don’t have to release your products on iOS devices & you have a litany of other platforms & devices to release on.

You people stay bastardizing what a monopoly is.

If you want to argue "anti-competitive" that’s a whole different argument. But the monopoly bullshit has to stop.

Fine, but would you also argue that the App Store isn’t * checks Wikipedia * a monopsony?

No, not at all. How would Apple be a monopsony?

I’m probably not going to be able to explain it as well as others have done.

FORESEE, is the one that can’t see that Apple is a monopoly. Even the US government with the antitrust cases being built up against Apple calls them monopolistic. Btw, Apple has well over 60% of the smartphone market in the US. Should we wait until Apple gets to 80% or maybe 90% market share, would that be better then to call Apple a monopoly.

The real area that Apple has a monopoly, is with their devices app store. There is only one app store for Apples iPhones and iPads. Your app has to use Apple for app monetization. Plus why is Apples platforms the only platform that hasn’t fully embedded the web standards? Could it be that Apple wants developers to make native apps instead, that way Apple gets to control those developers and their apps, and any app monetization, so Apple can always get their 30% cut. If Apple had fully embedded web apps and PWAs years ago, then many new apps would be exactly that web apps for Apples, and other platforms, but Apple wouldn’t be able to collect their 30% cut. Plus developers and companies get to control everything in their app, including any wording that they want.

Also you need the latest iOS 14 update to be able to use these new web apps, because the previous iOS wouldn’t have been able to support these new web apps.

I bet you, If Epic knew that Apple was going to allow Amazon’s new Luna game platform on iOS via a web app, or let Google, Microsoft, Nvidia, Facebook, or any other game platform on Apples iOS platforms, then I bet you Epic wouldn’t have gone after Apple with their lawsuits. But Epic didn’t know back in September if Apple was going to allow that.

To define a monopoly you have to define a market. You’re trying to argue that "all computing devices everywhere" is the appropriate market scope, and by that definition Apple is a minority player. I would say that "smartphones in the US" is an appropriate scope, and by that definition, Apple has monopoly power.

Developers have the option to not release their products on iOS, as you say, but they only have that option if their product is viable without US mobile users. The question becomes, how many products are viable without access to US mobile users, or with access to only a small subset of mobile users? Is that a common problem, common enough that regulation might be appropriate?

No, thats ludicrous, you have to look at what is being sold & to whom it can be sold to & the limitations for where it can be sold. If I’m selling a video game, I have over a dozen digital platforms to sell it on. If I’m selling an Application i also have numerous platforms to sell them on; from desktops OS’ to smartphones & everything in between. If Apple & iOS controlled 50% or more of the market where I can distribute my product, they’d be a monopoly. They don’t. I have ample options & Windows is still the biggest player in the game & Apple’s macOS provides an open platform to distribute your products as well.

It’d be like saying Nintendo’s eShop is a monopoly because I can’t side load my games on Nintendo Switch’s. They dominate nearly 100% of the handheld gaming market & have only one Store that they curate & decide what is allowed on it & what cut developers get from it. They would HAVE to be a monopoly by your logic.. but of course they aren’t. Developers have PlayStation, Xbox, macOS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Steam, Epic Store, etc. to publish their games to. They have plenty of options.

When Windows was found to have a monopoly with Internet Explorer it was during an era where they dominated over 90% of the computing market. There was no iOS, Android, ChromeOS. There was one dominant player, Windows – plus Apple & Linux. The internet was also much slower & the effort it took others to download alternative browsers gave a distinct competitive advantage to Microsoft & IE. Microsoft tried to make the case that IE was inextricably linked to the OS but that proved moot seeing as they released a version of IE on Mac. Thus they lost the case but were still allowed to keep IE as a preinstalled App, just required to share API’s with Devs. (Which Apple already does on many levels.)

There’s no monopoly here. The internet has changed. Options are abundant. Choice exists for developers. This idea we can just narrow down the idea of what a monopoly is to a specific type of computing device is markedly unfair. It’d be like saying Funko has a monopoly over small vinyl figurines because they dominate over half of the small vinyl figuring market. "Break them up!" No.. They are but a major player in a much larger & broader figurine market.

You’re making broken analogies to the point where it’s hard to believe it’s unintentional.

I’m talking about treating mobile applications as a market, which has absolutely nothing to do with saying the eShop has a monopoly on selling software for the Switch — the correct analog there would be saying that the App Store has a monopoly on selling software for iPhones. Other people in this thread have said that, but I agree that’s silly and is definitely not the point I’m trying to make.

What I said is that mobile software is distinct enough from all software to stand as a market of its own. The analogy that would map most closely would be saying that, because PCs exist, you can never talk about just the "console market" because we must always consider all possible places to sell software. Of course, that’s nonsense. If one vendor controlled nearly 60% of console hardware and over 70% of console software revenue, reasonable people could disagree about whether there was the potential for illegal monopoly abuse.

What I said is that mobile software is distinct enough from all software to stand as a market of its own.

How?

If one vendor controlled nearly 60% of console hardware and over 70% of console software revenue, reasonable people could disagree about whether there was the potential for illegal monopoly abuse.

Not if equitable competition & alternative choices are abundant. There’s no argument. It’s not a monopoly. It’s simply the preferred choice. If I create a piece of tech that people choose, my competition can create equally capable products & I’m not imposing myself onto others products (i.e. Windows w/ IE on other manufacturers computers) what would I be monopolizing? Peoples preferences? This is a distinct industry where people have the option to choose what they want. Where people have dozens of options. The intrinsic nature of a monopoly is taking away peoples choice & having exclusive control over a market. This is not possible when people have alternatives that are equitable to what you provide & in many cases better.

What people are trying to reframe the narrative to is that the App Store is itself a monopoly because of its existence on iPhone’s without an alternative. Yet the App Store is intrinsically linked to the iOS/watchOS/iPadOS/macOS experience. They don’t exist elsewhere but on Apple devices & Apple is showing that you can provide customers equitable alternatives to that App Store via web apps. Companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Google & more are proving that point by creating web app versions of their services. Even companies like OnlyFans have proven that. Their service isn’t available on an App Store but their website via mobile is just as capable as any modern App. People have options.

I want to make this very clear: I agree with you that people who say things like "the App Store has a monopoly on iOS software" are misusing the term. That’s obviously nonsense.

The question is whether Apple is in a similar position to Microsoft with IE, as you referenced. There were other options in the 90s — anybody could buy a Mac instead of a Windows computer, and though it had plenty of rough edges, desktop Linux was available as well by the time the court case was filed. That didn’t matter, because they controlled enough of the home computer market to exert a distorting effect on software. The court decided that they were able to abuse their dominance in one sector (computer OSes) to unfairly advantage their product in another sector (web browsers). It’s important to note that Microsoft didn’t prevent competitors from making other operating systems, all that mattered was that they had a large portion of the OS market share — Microsoft was in a position to abuse monopoly power because they were "simply the preferred choice".

So: I’m not saying that I think Apple is definitely in that position, I’m just saying that we are now haggling over numbers — it might be a difference in degree, but not in kind. They do have a lead in US mobile OS market share, the only question is whether they have enough of a lead to allow them to use monopoly power to distort related markets.

Come on now. They have roughly 50% of the mobile market in many of the richest countries like the U.S, Japan, U.K. etc. Do services like Stadia even work in countries like Brazil or India?

It’s worthwhile thinking about where Apple performs better and how that influences the overall mobile market. Does it really make sense for a new Silicon Valley startup launching a service that’s U.S only first to skip iOS support?

Web Apps aren’t crappy & Apple has the right to decide what type of content is available on their store as a minority in the computing industry with over a dozen other platforms for developers to publish on.

I said in my other reply that a monopoly is based on market. I guess the question is, can the scope of a market be situational?

If one company owned every single highway rest stop in the US, and used that monopoly power to jack up the prices to triple what they are now, would that be an abuse of power that warrants intervention? Or would you say that the company is a "minority" in the "grocery industry" and point out that people can go find a Piggly-Wiggly if they want Twinkies, or find a Best Buy if they need a phone charger? Do we have to ignore the cost of getting off and back on the toll road, driving tens of miles out of your way, etc, and pretend that all coffee sales are equal?

ETA: Also, I’m a big fan of web apps, but there are still rough edges compared to native — for example, HTML5 GamePad API can’t handle some features of some controllers.

Destiny 2 on my iPad? I’m fully sold now.

I’ve been using it to play D2 on my Surface Pro and it’s been amazing.

Quick correction, there have actually only been 52 stadia pro games to date, I have them all XD. I think it must have been a typo on google’s press release part or maybe we are getting 13 pro games by the end of the year

Nope, there are more than 52 of them

does Safari support full screen on iphone and iPad?

Yes – here’s a picture of Superhot running on GeForce Now on an iPhone. The service still in beta which is probably why Nvidia haven’t got round to removing the white bar at the bottom (I think it’s a config option).

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