Apple's new guidelines for the App Store open up possibilities for xCloud, Stadia and other applications that Apple had blocked, but Mic...
Apple's new guidelines for the App Store open up possibilities for xCloud, Stadia and other applications that Apple had blocked, but Microsoft rejects the proposal
Apple released a revision of some of its App Store review guidelines on Friday. The new rules attempt to address the many issues that have been raised by the iPhone manufacturer's practices on its iOS App Store, with updates for game streaming services, new rules for online courses and fewer restrictions on in-app purchases of free e-mail applications. This latest change would solve the problem that was at the centre of Apple's previous controversy with Hey, without the changes the company had to add for the free version of the application in order to get Apple's approval.
Apple has revised its App Store guidelines in anticipation of the release of iOS 14, the latest version of the iPhone's operating system, which is scheduled for the end of the month. Apple employees use these guidelines to approve or deny applications and updates on the App Store. These rules have been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent weeks by application manufacturers, who claim that the iPhone manufacturer has too much control over what software runs on the iPhone and how Apple collects a portion of the payments from those applications.
The company made the changes after competitors such as Microsoft and Google refused to comply with its App Store policies to launch their streaming gaming platforms on the iPhone. Facebook has publicly stated in recent months that Apple's rules have restricted what its gaming applications can do on the iPhone and iPad. The new App Store rules released on Friday will impact Google and Microsoft's streaming gaming services.
Apple told CNBC that game streaming services, such as Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud, are explicitly allowed, but subject to a few conditions. The new rules show that each game must also be downloadable "directly from the App Store" and that each game update must be submitted to Apple individually before a company can distribute it to users. This means that Microsoft or Google cannot create a single global xCloud or Stadia application that gives access to all games.
However, they can offer individual games on the App Store as separate software using their streaming technology. They do not need to create a complete downloadable game that runs locally on the iPhone. If they want a unified place for players to find all their games, cloud game providers such as Google and Microsoft can create "catalogue" type applications that also bring together and link these individual applications. The decision comes after Apple long banned application catalogues within applications, according to Reuters.
It should also be noted that all such streaming game applications would still be subject to the usual rules of Apple's App Store, including the company's contentious 30% discount, which is currently the subject of the historic battle between Apple and Epic Games.
To move their online gaming services to the iPhone, according to the updated guidelines, Microsoft and Google would have to radically change their business models and overcome many hurdles. There are enough hurdles to make it look like Apple has designed the rules to appear benign, while at the same time preventing xCloud and Stadia from entering the market. Yet Apple said in a statement that it looks forward to game developers putting game streaming in the cloud on the App Store.
New guidelines remain "a bad experience for customers", according to Microsoft
While Google has not yet commented on Apple's new rules, Microsoft categorically rejects Apple's proposal. A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement :
"It remains a bad experience for customers. Players want to be able to access a game from their catalogue directly in a single application, just as they do for movies or songs, and not be forced to download more than 100 applications to play individual games from the cloud. We are committed to putting players at the centre of everything we do, and providing them with a great experience is at the heart of this mission.
Microsoft is deliberately raising the issue of streaming movies or songs that are not subject to the same content restrictions as games. Apple does not require Netflix, Disney Plus or Spotify to submit each movie, TV show or album in a separate application. Apple treats games differently in its App Store, and the company derives significant revenue from in-app purchases related to games. Microsoft's statement does not say whether or not the company will rework xCloud to work with Apple's new rules.
Next week, Microsoft will launch its streaming game delivery service, formerly called xCloud, as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The streaming gaming option will be available in 22 countries on September 15, but only on Android smartphones and tablets at the time of launch.
The new rules underline the tension between Apple's control over its platform, which it says is motivated by security concerns, and the emerging gaming services that many see as the future of the gaming industry.
In another change, the updated rules allow individual virtual classes to be paid for outside Apple's payment system, but classes where one instructor teaches several people still require an application that must use Apple's in-app purchases. The change comes after the New York Times reported in July that ClassPass, which had helped users make individual appointments in gyms, became a chargeable service for Apple.
The new rules also allow commercial applications such as business databases not to use Apple's payment system for sales to organisations, but still require Apple's payment system for sales to individuals or families. Apple also said that free standalone applications connected to a paid service outside the application - such as Hey email or cloud storage services - do not need to use its payment system "provided there is no purchase in the application, or calls to action for a purchase outside the application".
This new rule follows Apple's fierce battle with the Hey email application, developed by Basecamp, which saw its updates initially rejected - and then allowed to return to the App Store - due to disputes over the obligation to use the in-app purchase system and the 30% commission. There was another dispute with WordPress, where its completely free app was apparently forced to add Apple's purchase option until the company backed down and apologised for "any confusion we caused".
According to commentators, Apple's new rules "look even worse". Apple can't seriously expect users to download 300 applications to play streaming games.... ,