Several game platforms are critical of Apple, which systematically bans their apps from the App Store. What is going on?
After years of testing, Microsoft will introduce its new game streaming service xCloud in September, which will be made part of the Game Pass Ultimate subscription. For a fixed monthly fee, subscribers can play graphics-intensive games in a Microsoft data center, the screen of which is then streamed to their devices.
Although the streaming app could be used on iPhones and Android devices during a test phase, the final version will only appear for phones with Android. Apple wants to pre-verify every addition to its app store, with the Game Pass app disapproved.
Stadia and Nvidia
This seems to be a broader policy within Apple. Google introduced its streaming platform Stadia at the end of last year, which until now can only be used on computers and Android devices. The same goes for Nvidia's streaming subscription.
The app from streaming service Shadow on iPhone, iPad and Apple TV was previously approved by Apple, but temporarily disappeared from the App Store because it "did not comply with the rules". After a number of adjustments, he was later allowed back into the digital store.
The Moonlight streaming app, with which users can stream their own gaming PC to an Apple device, would also not comply with Apple's rules. The creators must make changes before a new update is allowed in the App Store.
Apple wants to approve the games
According to a spokesperson, Apple is willing to approve the streaming apps, but under one condition: the company wants to be able to pre-approve all games on Game Pass, Stadia and other services.
It would mean that Apple checks hundreds of games originally made for PC or consoles to see if they might violate Apple's own rules. In this way, the tech giant wants to prevent iPhone and iPad owners from being presented with an inappropriate game.
According to insiders at The Verge , there is another factor: Apple would only allow streaming apps if they connect to a computer of the app user, within the same network. Because services like Stadia and Game Pass stream from a data center, Apple would be holding back.
Microsoft condemns Apple
A Microsoft spokesperson was outraged by Apple's explanation. "They are the only company to ban cloud gaming and cloud subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass," read a statement. "Apple continuously treats gaming apps differently, while other types of apps have less strict rules."
With that, the company seems to refer to other streaming services, which offer video or music, for example. Apple does not ask Netflix to pre-approve every film or TV series, but now demands the same from gaming services.
Microsoft is not waiting for a game inspection by Apple, because organizations such as the ESRB and PEGI are already doing that. These state on game boxes for which age a title is intended.
A Facebook Gaming app without games
Shortly after the conflict between Microsoft and Apple, Facebook released its own gaming app for the iPhone, without the ability to play games in it. That also turned out to be difficult due to the App Store policy.
"Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay features to get Apple's approval," Sheryl Sandberg said in a press release. Facebook also seems to be criticizing Apple's policy.
Investigation into abuse of power
The conflict between Apple and the game services comes at an unfavorable time for the company. At the moment, several investigations into the App Store policy of the tech giant, including at the European Commission.
Large companies including Spotify accuse Apple of abuse of power, because up to 30 percent of the sales made are demanded from iOS apps. That while, for example, Apple's own music service does not have to hand in any money.
Apple's game policy may come under scrutiny in the investigation. After all, the App Store operator makes it difficult for other parties, while its own game service Apple Arcade is also in the digital store.