Xbox Game Pass on Switch? Epic v. Apple trial says it’s possible

Xbox Game Pass
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Xbox Game Pass is currently one of the best values in console gaming, offering hundreds of games for a flat subscription fee. You can play those games on an Xbox console; you can play them on a gaming PC; thanks to a recent beta, you can even play them on a Web browser or on iOS. A recent document suggests that Xbox Game Pass could even wind up on the Nintendo Switch — and the games industry could look very different over the next few years, if that's true.

Information comes from Stephen Totilo, a journalist for Axios, who tweeted an excerpt of a document from the ongoing Epic v. Apple lawsuit. Since neither Microsoft nor Nintendo is on trial here, it may seem a bit odd to hear about those two companies during the proceedings. However, the Epic v. Apple trial has far-reaching consequences for the industry in general, especially since it touches on digital game purchase platforms and royalty structures in general.

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While most of the document is redacted, it's a transcript of a conversation between a lawyer and an Xbox executive. According to Totilo, the executive was discussing "sensitive information about negotiations between Nintendo and Microsoft."

"There is demand from your customers on Xbox to have streaming available on mobile, including iOS?" the lawyer asks.

"That's correct," the executive replies. Another question and answer are redacted, but it seems reasonable to think that the two discussed other potential platforms for Xbox Cloud Gaming. The lawyer continues later:

"What about your job has you involved in the discussions to put streaming available on Apple, on iOS, but not [also] involved with regard to the [redacted]."

In fact, the entire next page of the transcript is redacted, suggesting that the two are discussing some very sensitive business strategy.

There's admittedly nothing conclusive about this exchange. We can say, however, that the discussion involved the relationship between Microsoft and Nintendo, that the two parties were discussing Xbox Cloud Gaming availability and that the redacted sections begin when discussing non-iOS platforms. Whatever Microsoft and Nintendo have been discussing, it doesn't seem unreasonable to think that Xbox Cloud Gaming has come up in some capacity.

Does this mean you should charge up your Switch and stand by for the big Xbox Cloud Gaming reveal at the next Nintendo Direct? Not necessarily. For one thing, we have no guarantee that the companies were discussing Xbox Cloud Gaming on the Switch. Furthermore, even if they were, there's no guarantee that the idea will come to fruition, or that it will do so anytime soon. It's entirely possible that none of this will come into play until Nintendo's next console comes out.

In any case, collaborations between Microsoft and Nintendo are hardly unprecedented; you can play the Ori games on the Switch, after all. If the companies really do want to take things a step further, though, the lines between console, PC and mobile gaming may continue to blur. 

Marshall Honorof

Marshall Honorof is a senior editor for Tom's Guide, overseeing the site's coverage of gaming hardware and software. He comes from a science writing background, having studied paleomammalogy, biological anthropology, and the history of science and technology. After hours, you can find him practicing taekwondo or doing deep dives on classic sci-fi.