Apple is opening the door for Google, Microsoft, and Nvidia to bring their game streaming services to iOS. But the pathway won’t be easy.
On Friday, Apple updated its rules for the iOS App Store with a new section devoted to game streaming, an emerging market that operates like Netflix, but for video games.
According to the changes, Apple is officially giving the green light to game streaming providers, but with one big caveat: They can’t house all the games available for streaming under a single app. Instead, they’ll need to submit and then publish each game as their own individual title on the iOS App Store first.
In other words, imagine Netflix needing to break out its catalog, and uploading every single movie and TV show as an individual product. It’s certainly doable, but adds an extra hurdle to the service’s operation and deployment.
The rules go on to say a game streaming service can still offer a “catalog” app to direct users to their library of games. However, Apple says: “All the games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.”
The new rules. (Credit: Apple)
The apps must also use Apple’s in-app payment method, ensuring the company gets a 30 percent cut if a user subscribes to the game streaming service. The user’s paid subscription can be then shared across related apps and services, ensuring no need to pay again.
The rules reflect the stance Apple took on game streaming last month: the services are fine, but we must review each game offered to ensure they meet the App Store’s rule on safety and quality.
“Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search,” Apple told Business Insider at the time.
The company introduced the new rules after Microsoft ended its pilot game streaming service on iOS, citing the restrictive conditions. “Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store,” Microsoft said at the time. “Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass.”
Asked about the new rules from Apple, a Microsoft spokesperson told PCMag: “This remains a bad experience for customers.”
“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,” the spokesperson added. “We’re committed to putting gamers at the center of everything we do, and providing a great experience is core to that mission.”
Google and Nvidia declined to comment on the new rules. In the meantime, all three companies have been developing their game streaming services for Android.
Interestingly, the new rules from Apple contain an apparent rebuttal to anyone with complaints: “Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store,” Cupertino says.