Apple laid out new rules for streaming games services hoping to be listed the App Store. But it’s not clear if the changes will result in Microsoft, Google Facebook and others actually introducing iPhone and iPad versions of their services, which are already available for other platforms.
App Store puts plenty of restrictions on streaming games
First off, Apple won‘t give these companies blanket authorization to put any game in their respective streaming services. “Each game update must be submitted for review,” say new App Store Review Guidelines.
And while Google, Microsoft, etc. want to put a single application in the App Store that will allow users to stream any game from large online collections, Apple won‘t allow that. Its rules state:
“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.”
To make it clear, “Games offered in a streaming game service subscription must be downloaded directly from the App Store,” according to Apple. In other words, the new guidelines require games part of an online streaming catalogue be treated like any other iOS application, not sit off in the cloud somewhere.
And Apple also says games that are part of a service “should not disadvantage non-subscriber customers.” That apparently means there must be a demo mode playable by anyone.
Cloud gaming 101
Many PC and console games have hefty hardware requirements, putting them out of the reach of most mobile computers. But cloud gaming services let beefy servers handle the heavy lifting and just stream the action to players with phones or tablets.
Google Stadia and Microsoft Xbox Game Pass are the best known options. Both were submitted to Apple to be listed in the iPhone App Store, and neither got approval.
Microsoft isn’t satisfied with Friday’s change. “This remains a bad experience for customers,” a company spokesperson told The Verge. “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.”
Updated on Sept. 12 with comment from Microsoft.