Microsoft recently confirmed that its xCloud video game streaming service will debut on September 15, as part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, but only on Android. The news for iOS, however, is not good, as already anticipated yesterday: the tests had been in progress for a few months, but they were finished a month ahead of schedule and the platform was abandoned. Not even Stadia, a similar Google service already officially available for a few months, has arrived on Apple devices.
Most observers have always had strong suspicions that the problem was not of a technical nature, but bureaucratic: in particular that the catch was hidden in some quirk and clause of the App Store. Apple spokespersons confirmed this yesterday a Business Insider. The problem is that according to Apple, all games in these services should be sent individually to Apple for verification and approval procedures, as if they were normal games from the App Store.
The App Store was created as a safe and trusted space for customers to discover and download apps, and as a great earning opportunity for developers. Before being published on our store, all apps are verified following the same set of guidelines, designed to protect customers and ensure fair and fair competition for developers. Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming-related services can absolutely find space on the App Store, as long as they follow the same guidelines that apply to all developers, including that every game must be sent individually for approval, and appear in rankings and research. In addition to the App Store, developers can reach all iPhone and iPad users through Safari and other browsers in the App Store.
It could be argued that xCloud and Stadia are more similar to Netflix, Spotify or Prime Video than to a traditional video game: "allows you to stream multimedia content" is a definition applicable to all the apps just mentioned: only the content category changes . But Apple doesn't pretend to endorse every single movie, series or song. The difference in treatment, according to Apple, lies precisely in the type of content. A film is not interactive, a video game is. And from this derive certain expectations from consumers – precisely evaluations, indexing and even in-app purchases. But in the future it is likely that the line of distinction will be less and less clear – already there is content like Bandersnatch (released in 2018), which breaks through the barriers of traditional films and TV series. And the format will become more and more popular, it seems.
It is not the first time that the App Store rules cause complications for Apple. The company has been sued by Spotify and others for unfair competition, and in more recent times even Telegram has made its own complaints. The massive investigation by the US Antitrust, in which the CEOs of the major web giants were recently heard, also aims to understand whether Apple is abusing its dominant position on its app platform.
Microsoft has limited itself to saying that the goal remains to reach as many platforms and devices as possible, but reiterated that for the moment it has nothing to add on the iOS issue.