Stadia game streaming will arrive on iOS via a web browser

After more than a year of an iOS ban, Google’s game streaming service Stadia will soon be available on the mobile platform as a browser-based progressive web app, Google announced today. Testing of the mobile web version of the service will begin this week, with a larger rollout expected in “several weeks.”

Switching to a web app for iOS support circumvents onerous restrictions Apple recently placed on game streaming apps distributed through the iOS App Store. Such apps would have to submit each individual game for Apple’s review to be listed on a separate product page in the App Store.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer said last month that Microsoft would use the same web-based workaround to get its Project xCloud streaming service on iOS sometime in 2021. Amazon’s Luna streaming service supports iOS via a web interface.

In September, developer Zach Knox released an iOS web browser called Stadium specially designed to work with Stadia’s existing web interface (like on PCs). This browser was pulled from the App Store in October because of what Apple said were issues with its implementation of Apple’s WebKit API for controllers. The specialist browser returned to the App Store earlier this month with the issue resolved.

Struggling for attention?

A year after a rough launch of Stadia, Google is also offering a free “Stadia Premiere Edition” package (including a Chromecast Ultra and a Stadia controller) to anyone who pre-orders. Cyberpunk 2077 on the platform before December 18. The deal – which bundles hardware typically valued at $ 100 with the purchase of a $ 60 game – suggests that Google may be struggling to sell the Premiere package at its current price.

Today also marks the first day when 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 free and instant 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 gamers have tried Stadia, subscribed to Stadia Pro, or purchased any of the service’s games. Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimated that around one million people downloaded the Stadia mobile app by April, roughly six months after Stadia launched and just after the service’s free tier rolled out. And a January Ars analysis found that only a few thousand people were playing the free copy of Thumper which was included in their Stadia Pro subscription this month.

Google is also touting Stadia’s selection of more than 80 games currently available on the service, with more than 135 in total expected by the end of the year. For context, the Xbox One had around 126 games available on the first anniversary of its release in North America in late 2013, while the PlayStation 4 had around 80 at the same point in its lifecycle. Google is also touting that 31 of those titles are included if you sign up for a $ 10 / month Stadia Pro account today and 15 of them are “First On or Only On Stadia”.

List image by Kyle Orland

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