Microsoft and Facebook blast Apple due to constricting app store policies. This policy causes a restriction in terms of introducing gaming apps and services on iPhones and other Apple devices. Apple’s restricting rules also raised antitrust issues that US legislators are now hearing in Congress.

Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate Versus Apple App Store Rules

Cloud gaming is becoming more popular with the introduction of fifth-generation or 5G networks. It allows users to stream hundreds of games over the internet without paying for it individually. Because of this innovation, video gamers nowadays have a huge list of titles they can play. But for Apple devices, the only way to stream games is through Apple Arcade+.

On September 15, Microsoft will launch its new xCloud gaming service, a part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This will allow users to play games anywhere through their smartphones and tablets instead of using one video game console. For only a $15 subscription per month, a user can choose from over 100 games online. In addition to that, xCloud will allow users to save game progress and resume playing on Xbox console or PC. But according to the company, the upcoming gaming service will only be available for Google’s Android mobile operating system.

The designed gaming cloud of Microsoft offers a huge listing of games. Unfortunately, due to Apple’s App Store restrictions, only one of these was supported for Apple devices. Moreover, according to Microsoft, it will no longer offer an exclusive testing version of its gaming apps on iOS. Among the most popular games available on Microsoft and missing from iOS are Destiny 2, Red Dead Redemption 2, and Gears of War 5.

Will Followers of Facebook Want to Play Games on Apple?

A Microsoft spokesperson said that Apple has consistently treated gaming apps differently. Compared to non-gaming apps, privacy updates applied more restrictive guidelines to gaming apps. Apple was the only universal purpose platform to deny patrons from cloud gaming and game subscription service like xCloud. The Microsoft spokesperson added that they do not have a path to bring their vision of cloud gaming on iOS via the Apple App Store. Nevertheless, the spokesperson also said that Microsoft is still committed to its vision to get xCloud on iPhones.

According to Apple, its guidelines that are long before the present, require every game to be separately submitted for individual review. In the case of Microsoft, it has over 100 games listed on its xCloud Library.

Microsoft was not the first company to encounter trouble with Apple’s restrictive gaming rules. Aside from Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, the App Store guideline also restricts Google’s Stadia and Nvidia’s GeForce’s gaming service. When Nvidia’s spokesperson was asked why GeForce is not available on iOS, he said, “Ask Apple.”

Facebook Gaming Apps Versus Apple Store Rules

Going forward, Facebook was not satisfied with Apple’s restriction as well. Facebook finally introduces its IOS version of its gaming application. However, Apple set a limitation that it is required to bring the gaming application to the App Store. This gaming app’s main function is to allow gamers to watch, create, and live-stream their gaming content.

Bringing the app to the app store will eliminate the feature where users can readily play the game instantly. Facebook’s efforts in developing the iOS version of its gaming app were wasted. After getting its gaming app on the app store, Facebook Followers denied it multiple times due to App Store Guideline 4.7. Due to multiple rejections, Followers of Facebook actually forced Facebook to remove the entire gameplay function from the separate app. Perhaps Apple should try buying more Facebook followers to support their social objectives?

Sheryl Sandberg, the Chief Operating Officer of Facebook, said that the company had to take down the gameplay functionality entirely to Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app. This means that iOS users will have an inferior app experience compared to Android users. 

Also, Sandberg noted that they remain focused on creating communities for over 380 million people who play on Facebook each month, regardless if Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.

Encountering a problem with App store guidelines is not new to Facebook. This set of guidelines has also limited the social media giant in the past. In fact, Facebook was forced to permanently remove some of the mini-games on the main Facebook app and Messenger app due to Apple’s guidelines.

Legal Implications of Apple’s App Store Guidelines

The rigorous app store rules of Apple raised an antitrust issue. U.S. Legislators questioned Apple’s rules in a congressional hearing with CEO Tim Cook and the superiors of Amazon, Google, and Facebook. It is now the subject of the European Union’s antitrust investigation. But since the policies were existing long before even buying Facebook likes become normalized. Apple said that it is specifically cutting the way of Microsoft gaming service.

This is a rebuttal to the building between different companies due to the strict app store rule. Piers Harding-Rolls, a research director of games at Ampere Analysis, told that different entities are attempting to build consumer awareness of the issues involved to convince Apple to change its policies. He also added that Apple is plowing its own path with privacy and managing its ecosystem.

Conclusion

The theory on why Apple is keeping its rules strict is trying to keep the focus on its own software. Keeping its own products at the top of the competition. Apple also earns from its own apps, and allowing similar apps on its App store will mean lesser income for them.

Apple has its gaming service called Apple Arcade+. It is somewhat similar to the service provided by Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google’s Stadia, and Nvidia’s GeForce. Apple has also partnered with many of the world’s most visionary developers and offers free games with only one subscription. Apple being in intense competition in-game subscription industry, provides a much lower subscription price. Arcade App’s monthly subscription is only $4.99 per month. This has played an essential role in the company’s revenue during this time.


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