What just happened? Facebook has been trying to get its Facebook Gaming app approved in Apple’s App Store since February, only to see it rejected five times. Then this week it finally got the approval, but only after removing a feature that offered access to mini-games. This comes as Apple has been receiving a barrage of criticism for its App Store policies and fees.
Microsoft has all but given up on bringing its xCloud game streaming service to iPhone and iPad users, and officially ended its beta testing program this week. In an ideal world, the Redmond giant would be able to blend xCloud with the extensive game library available to people who purchase Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. However, Apple told Business Insider that cloud services like xCloud simply can’t get into the App Store because of the company’s strict review guidelines.
In their current form, game streaming services offer access to games that Apple can’t individually review to ensure they align with the same set of performance, security, and privacy standards as the rest of apps that have been allowed in the App Store.
Naturally, Microsoft isn’t happy about the matter, so it will only launch xCloud on Android next month. The company is still looking into ways to bring the service to iOS users, but judging by Apple’s statement there is only one way — “submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search.”
Facebook is feeling Microsoft’s frustration with today’s release of its Facebook Gaming app. Facebook Gaming is mostly designed as an alternative to Twitch and YouTube where people can watch streamers play video games, but the social giant also wanted to include a series of mini games that people could play to pass the time.
Apple repeatedly rejected the app, even after Facebook shared some telemetry that showed Android users of the app spend around 95 percent of the time in the streaming section. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said that after removing the mini games feature, Apple was more than happy to allow Facebook Gaming in the App Store.
Sandberg believes it’s not fair that iOS users are only allowed an “inferior experience” to those on Android. She added that “we’re staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month — whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”
Apple has come under fire as of late for App Store policies and high commissions, as many developers feel they’re being coerced into playing by the Cupertino giant’s rules with no alternative way to target iOS users. For instance, Valve got the Steam Link app approved for iOS and tvOS only after removing the ability to buy Steam games from within the app.
Last month, Apple CEO Tim Cook was questioned by Congress members on these issues, but only offered the typical explanation we’ve heard many times before — that Apple is holding all apps to high standards and won’t allow anything that doesn’t meet its guidelines in order to have a safe App Store for iOS users. In the EU, the company is subject to an antitrust probe into these practices that could end up with a multi-billion dollar fine.