According to Apple, game streaming services like Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia do not work on iPhones because they violate the App Store guidelines
- Google Stadia was launched in November 2019 and xCloud in September
- Cloud services allow users to access a wider range of games on mobile devices
- The apps violate the terms that Apple has imposed on developers in the app store
Services that allow you to play high-end games without having to download them, such as Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia, don't work on Apple, Apple confirmed.
Apple said these game streaming services violated the App Store Terms of Service by providing access to games that the company cannot review individually.
The technology giant said that all apps are checked against the same guidelines to protect customers and create a level playing field for developers.
Microsoft is expected to launch its xCloud game service for Android on September 15, announcing that testing for the iOS version of the mobile app has ended.
Google's Stadia, launched in November 2019 for the general public, is also only available on Android devices.
Microsoft is expected to launch its xCloud game service for Android on September 15, announcing that testing for the iOS version of the mobile app has ended
With these cloud gaming services, which include Nvidia GeForce Now, users can access a variety of games, including high-end titles.
For $ 15 a month, users can pay Microsoft to access over 100 games for smartphones and tablets – but not for iPhone or iPad. This is the first game streaming service with an integrated Netflix-like library.
Providing access to titles that have not been individually vetted by Apple violates a core part of the App Store Terms of Service, making service operations impossible.
"Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely be launched on the App Store if they follow the same guidelines that apply to all developers," said an Apple statement.
They said this included submitting games individually for review and appearing on charts and in search – something that cloud services are unlikely to do.
"In addition to the App Store, developers can reach all iPhone and iPad users over the Internet through Safari and other browsers in the App Store," said Apple.
Microsoft informed The Verge that it couldn't find a solution to bring its xCloud service to iOS through the App Store, and accused Apple of its rules.
The company said Apple was "alone" in denying consumers the benefits of cloud gaming, claiming that it "treats gaming apps differently" from non-gaming apps.
"All games available in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated by independent content rating boards," said a Microsoft statement.
"We are committed to finding a way to bring cloud games to the iOS platform with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate."
With Stadia and xCloud, users pay for access to the service, which they can then use to play games in the cloud – without anything being stored locally.
This means that Apple cannot know what games a user buys or plays on devices, and therefore cannot review them. This violates a major tenant of the App Store rules.
Steam Link, manufactured by Valve, is available for iOS, but unlike cloud gaming services, you can only access games on your own home network.
Providing access to titles that have not been individually vetted by Apple violates a core part of the App Store Terms of Service, making service operations impossible
This is allowed under the conditions that remote desktop apps provide, but not under cloud gaming services.
One of the problems that may prevent Apple from rewriting its terms and conditions to allow these types of apps is the potentially lost revenue.
When someone signs up for a service or buys an app from the app store, the company cuts sales by 30 percent – something that wouldn't happen if users use third-party apps to play.
The App Store guidelines also explicitly block cloud gaming apps through a thin client deployment so that software cannot access games that are not stored on the device.
With a market of nearly 1.5 billion users, the Apple App Store is a lucrative platform that Microsoft and Google are unlikely to ignore.
You have options – such as changing the core functionality of your service that prevents users from buying games – as Valve did with Steam Link.