After over a year of being barred from iOS, Google’s Stadia game-streaming service will soon be available on the mobile platform as a progressive Web application running through a browser, Google announced today. Testing for the mobile Web version of the service will begin this week, with a wider rollout planned for “several weeks from now.”
The move to a Web app for iOS support gets around the onerous restrictions Apple recently placed on game-streaming apps distributed through the iOS App Store. Such apps would need to submit each individual game for review by Apple for listing in a distinct App Store product page.
Xbox Chief Phil Spencer said last month that Microsoft would be using the same Web-based workaround to get its Project xCloud streaming service on iOS sometime in 2021. Amazon’s Luna streaming service has support for iOS via a Web interface.
Back in September, developer Zach Knox launched an iOS Web browser called Stadium that was specifically designed to work with Stadia’s existing Web-based interface (as it does on PCs). That browser was pulled from the App Store in October over what Apple said were issues with its implementation of Apple’s WebKit API for controllers. The specialized browser returned to the App Store earlier this month with the issue fixed.
Struggling for attention?
One year after something of a rough launch for Stadia, Google is also giving away a free “Stadia Premiere Edition” package (including a Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia controller) for anyone who preorders Cyberpunk 2077 on the platform before December 18. That deal—which packages hardware usually valued at $100 with the purchase of a $60 game—suggests Google may be struggling to sell the Premiere package at its current price.
Today also marks the first day that Destiny 2: New Light is available for free on the Stadia platform. Anyone with a Gmail address should be able to play the game instantly with this link. We’ve said in the past that offering instant, free access to games could be a strong differentiator for Stadia, but at this point it may be too little, too late.
Google still hasn’t publicly discussed how many players have tried Stadia, subscribed to Stadia Pro, or bought any of the games on the service. Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimated that roughly a million people had downloaded the Stadia mobile app as of April, roughly six months after the Stadia’s launch and just after the rollout of the service’s free tier. And an Ars analysis from January found that only a few thousand people were playing the free copy of Thumper that was included with their Stadia Pro subscription that month.
Google is also touting Stadia’s selection of over 80 games currently available on the service, with over 135 total expected by the end of the year. For context, the Xbox One had about 126 games available by the first anniversary of its late 2013 North American release, while the PlayStation 4 had roughly 80 at the same point in its lifecycle. Google also touts that 31 of those titles are included if you sign up for a $10/month Stadia Pro account today and that 15 of them are “First On or Only On Stadia.”
Listing image by Kyle Orland