Apple has updated its App Store guidelines to include wording that recognizes game streaming services. These changes create a pathway for companies like Microsoft and Google to bring their game streaming services to the platform.
Tom Warren, Senior Editor at The Verge, has noted on Twitter that Apple has updated its App Store guidelines. Based on a reading of Section 4.9 Streaming Games, the guidelines seem to lay out conditions that must be met in order for a game streaming service to operate on the platform.
4.9 Streaming games
Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines — for example, each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.
4.9.1 Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, has user ratings and review, can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control apps, appears on the user’s device, etc.
The short of it seems to be that all games on the platform must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app for review. This also means each game would have to include a store page, allowing it to be reviewed by users, appear in searches, and be controlled via parental control apps.
The guidelines also makes mention of a “catalog app”, which could be a reference to the likes of Xbox Game Pass.
4.9.2 Streaming game services may offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find the games on the App Store, provided that the app adheres to all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple. All the games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.
This is a wise move on Apple’s behalf. Not only does this seem to provide a way for Microsoft and Google to bring xCloud and Stadia, respectively, to the platform (which will both act as another means of revenue), it also ensures users don’t switch eco-systems.
For a lot of Xbox users, the appeal of xCloud is immediately obvious, and if it wasn’t available on iPhone devices, some may consider switching to Android for the service.
It’s certainly not as clear-cut as users and developers might have hoped. If each game has a store page, does that mean Apple wants the games to be purchasable outside of the streaming service? Furthermore, will Microsoft and Google (and others that come) be happy with Apple’s 30% cut, especially given recent reports that Apple gave Amazon a unique fee?
This has all seemingly coalesced at a time where Apple is in the midst of a lawsuit with Epic Games, the developers of Fortnite, over how in-app purchases are handled on the platform. Apple has barred access to Fortnite while also limiting Epic Games’ access to the Apple SDK. Microsoft has come out and shown support for Epic Games, stating that the company should have access to Apple’s SDK in order to keep the Unreal Engine moving forwards.
All of this leads to some incredibly murky water. How Microsoft and Google react to these App Store guideline changes remains to be seen. Keep it locked to Shacknews for any forthcoming updates and statements regarding Apple’s guideline changes.