Apple has updated its App Store Review Guidelines to add specific rules about streaming games, in the wake of its disputes with Microsoft and Epic:
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.
Moreover, sub-clauses require that each game must be listed in the App Store as an individual app, and catalog apps that let users sign up for a streaming service must comply with other guidelines, including subscribing via in-app purchase and using Sign in with Apple.
From Apple’s point of view, it now has explicit rules to point to, but honestly, all this really means is that there won’t be game streaming services on the App Store. Neither Microsoft nor Epic is going to spend the time or money on what is not an insignificant amount of work and have to hand over the 30 percent cut to Apple on top of that. Just not going to happen.
To my mind, this remains a short-sighted and ill thought out decision on Apple’s part. Game streaming services aren’t going away, and if iOS is the only platform that they’re not available on, then, honestly, that just hurts iOS. Apple has clearly decided that it doesn’t care about losing those customers—that it’s an acceptable trade-off for not losing the revenue and the control over App Store contents.
But, as the company continues to find itself under fire for restrictive and potentially anticompetitive behavior on the App Store, it certainly seems as though it’s yet another log on the fire for those developers wondering if the App Store is really the right fit for them. Apple may be able to win this fight on technicalities, but there’s a high risk for it losing out in the long run.