Apple says its new App Store guidelines open the doors for video game streaming services. These gaming platforms say the exact opposite.
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By Matt Binder2020-09-12 20:09:25 UTC
The video game industry is none too pleased with Apple right now.
In an attempt to extend an olive branch to streaming game services that were previously barred from the App Store, Apple has announced a new set of guidelines allowing game streaming services like Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia on the platform for the first time.
Nice, right? Wrong. Many in the industry are up in arms over the new guidelines.
Apple’s old rules blocked these streaming apps from the App Store, which essentially means you can’t use them on iOS devices like the iPhone. In August, when Facebook launched its Facebook Games iOS app, the social media company voiced its displeasure at being unable to include, well, any games.
At the time, Apple explained that the company reviews app content before allowing it in the App Store. Being that these video game streaming services offer an ever-changing lineup of gaming titles, Apple’s position was these types of apps weren’t allowed in its App Store.
However, these streaming services are growing in popularity. So Apple has decided to update its guidelines and open the App Store doors to services like xCloud and Stadia. However – and here’s the deal breaker – according to the new rules, every game available on these services would need to submit to the App Store as a standalone app.
The guidelines seem to totally defeat the purpose of these services.
“This remains a bad experience for customers,” said a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement provided to Mashable. “Gamers want to jump directly into a game from their curated catalog within one app just like they do with movies or songs, and not be forced to download over 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud.”
Microsoft has a point. Movie and music streaming services like Netflix and Spotify all have apps on the App Store. And those services have an always-updating catalog of multimedia content accessible directly from within the app.
Imagine if Apple required that Netflix submit every film first for approval before offering it on the platform? It doesn’t make much sense for video games to be treated so much differently. At least one expert believes that Apple has its reasons.
“Either Apple fundamentally misunderstands how game streaming works or these guidelines are designed to be a coy play at ‘technically’ allowing those systems to function while ensuring that the requirements are so onerous that Microsoft, Google, and other up-and-comers simply don’t engage,” Michael Futter, co-founder of the consulting firm F-Squared and co-host of the Virtual Economy Podcast,” told Mashable. “Apple’s new guidelines around streaming communicate that the company has no interest in welcoming xCloud or Stadia to iOS.”
Futter went on to question what this means for similar video game services like SteamLink. Valve’s streaming app allows users to access their library of PC games. This would seem to violate Apple’s new guidelines.
The Cupertino-based tech giant already has a rocky relationship with the gaming industry.
One of the most popular video games, Fortnite, is currently MIA from the App Store due to a dispute over revenue share terms. The game’s developer, Epic Games, is involved in a legal battle with the iPhone-maker over Apple’s anti-competitive practices when it comes to the App Store.
It’s clear that Apple views the gaming industry as a money-maker, and that it wants a generous cut of anything that generates income from iOS availability. But industry experts like Futter think Apple is really blowing a major opportunity.
“Apple may have taken a baby step forward,” he explained. “But this reads more like a child’s demands than a real gesture toward embracing the non-mobile half of the approximately $150 billion gaming industry.”