It looks like the streaming services Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud will not be available for iPhone or iPad at any time. Today, Apple spelled out the terms of these services, confirming some of Microsoft̵7;s previous criticisms. Based on the guidelines, the prospects for streaming games on iOS in the near future seem rather bleak.
Here is an excerpt from the new section of the review guidelines, 4.9:
4.9 Streaming games
Streaming games are allowed as long as they follow all guidelines – for example, every game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate search metadata, games must use in-app purchases to unlock features or functions, etc. Of course, there are always open Internet apps and browsers to reach all users outside App Store.
- 4.9.1 Each streaming game must be submitted to App Store as a single app so that it has one App Store product page, displayed in charts and searches, has user ratings and review, can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control patches, displayed on the user’s device, etc.
- 4.9.2 Streaming gaming services can offer a directory app on App Store to help users sign up for the service and find games on App Store, provided that the app follows all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchases and use the Sign In with Apple. All games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.
If you do not want to read the legislation, the core is that although it is technically possible for streaming services to be available on iOS, each individual game offered on these services must A) function as its own app, with a dedicated list in the App Store and B) manage Apple’s careful review process as if it were its own app.
In addition, all streaming services for games must offer in-app purchases for games, DLC and microtransactions with Sign in with Apple and the App Store payment system. This means that a 30% reduction in the price goes to Apple, which is the core of the company’s current conflict with Epic Games.
It is worth noting that Apple does not apply the same strict heading to streaming services that are not games. Not every video on YouTube or Netflix needs a separate iOS app with its own approval process.
While streaming gaming services may operate within these guidelines, it seems unlikely that any of them will be willing to do so, at least in this infant stage of streaming service platforms. GeForce NOW and Xbox Game Streaming both offer hundreds of titles, Stadia has dozens. Publishing all these games (or accessing them) as individual apps provides a huge investment of time and money, not to mention the individual maintenance of each title or the cost of sharing revenue on all game purchases.
Some see this as an indication that Apple is interested in its own gaming streaming platform. If I may spit a little: I do not see it happening. Apple has not shown any interest in what kind of technology the backbone would require. If you’re looking for a competitive angle here, the Apple Arcade subscription is the one to look at. It follows Apple’s own guidelines for downloading and approving individual games, and of course benefits Apple immensely for both initial and recurring purchases.
We expect to hear from Microsoft, Google and others in response to this more explicit description of Apple’s game streaming policy. If any of them indicate that they are willing to comply with the terms, we will be surprised and happy to report it.
Source: Apple via CNBC