Game on! Apple Arcade faces serious competition

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Microsoft Project xCloud
Three huge tech companies are all launching gaming services this year, and any of them can be accessed with an iPhone, iPad or Mac.
Photo: Microsoft

Two of Apple’s biggest competitors revealed they’ll debut their own streaming games services at about the same time as the launch of Apple Arcade.

This isn’t the first we’ve heard of Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia, but their developers have revealed new details about pricing and release dates.

Microsoft xCloud Console launches this fall for free… sort of

Microsoft’s biggest competitor for Apple Arcade is Project xCloud, and it’s still a long way in the future. When it debuts, this will be a fully cloud-based streaming service for Xbox One games.

Coming in October though, is xCloud Console. Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s EVP of Gaming, said at E3, “There’s a new platform feature: console streaming. It turns your Xbox One into your own personal and free xCloud server. Whether you’re using a console in our data center or your console at home, this October, you’ll be able to use our hybrid gaming cloud to play your games, wherever you go.”

This service is expected to be available on many types of computers, including iPhone, iPad and Mac. It will require an Xbox One console.

Google Stadia pricing and release date

Google is brewing up its own cloud-based streaming service: Stadia. This promises to run top-tier games on Google servers and stream the video to users’ computers

This service was unveiled earlier this year, but its developer only recently reveled that a Stadia Pro service will cost $9.99 a month when it debuts in November. Google is also prepping a basic version called Stadia Base that will be free when it launches in 2020.

Either version will be available for any device running the Chrome browser.

Apple Arcade takes a different tack

2019 will be a huge year for gaming services. In addition to xCloud Console and Stadia, Apple Arcade is also scheduled before the end of the year.

This will be an “all-you-can-eat” subscription service for iOS, iPadOS and Mac. Unlike it’s rivals, games will be installed on users’ computers, not streamed.

iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 include support for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One controllers, a feature obviously added to boost interest in this gaming service. And Arcade is integrated into the iOS/iPadOS App Store.

There is no word yet on pricing, or exactly when Apple Arcade will launch other than sometime this fall.