Experts say Apple is missing out on the cloud gaming boom

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Cloud gaming is taking off in a big way, and Apple isn't part of it.
Photo: Killian Bell/Cult of Mac

Apple is missing out on another major revenue stream by ignoring cloud gaming services, according to market experts.

While rivals like Amazon, Nvidia and Microsoft are reaping the rewards of a gaming industry boom that’s only expected to get bigger, Apple is leaving money on the table. But there is a simple way it could enjoy a piece of the pie.

Apple shouldn’t ignore cloud gaming

The latest figures from GlobalData indicate that cloud gaming is on track to become a $3 billion industry in 2022. That’s up a whopping 59% from last year, and it’s only expected to grow even bigger in the foreseeable future.

The likes of Amazon, Nvidia and Google are all enjoying their share of the revenues, while Apple is “losing out,” Rachel Foster Jones, an analyst at GlobalData, wrote in a note seen by Barron’s.

Apple does have the Apple Arcade subscription service, and it seems relatively successful, but that’s different. And there is a way Apple could enjoy a cut of cloud gaming without a cloud gaming service of its own.

How Apple could earn from cloud gaming

Apple Arcade gives users access to hundreds of games for an affordable monthly fee. And while many of those games are great, they’re mostly mobile-only titles that must be installed before you can play them.

Cloud gaming services allow you to enjoy fully-fledged console and PC titles on a wide variety of devices, including smartphones, tablets, low-powered laptops, and even TVs. And gamers seem to love it.

The problem is that Apple won’t allow cloud gaming services in the App Store. Nvidia, Microsoft, Google, and others have been forced to develop web apps that allow cloud gamers to enjoy titles inside Safari instead.

But by changing its strict App Store policies to allow cloud gaming services — and giving players the opportunity to subscribe through the App Store — Apple could earn millions (more) from its rivals with very little effort.

The longer it waits, the harder it gets

GlobalData warns that that cloud gaming operators will continue to deliver web-based streaming services, obviously, which will only make it harder for Apple to compete in the future.

Apple will “lose control over its customers,” Jones warned, and it could be difficult for it to compete later. “Apple will therefore struggle to gain a foothold in the cloud gaming space.”