Game streaming services such as Stadia and xCloud are unlikely to make their way to iOS, after Apple updated its App Review guidelines that effectively bars them from the platform.
While the new rules technically allow game streaming, they come with a huge caveat.
“You may offer a single subscription that is shared across your own apps and services,” read the new rules. “Games offered in a streaming game service subscription must be downloaded directly from the App Store, must be designed to avoid duplicate payment by a subscriber, and should not disadvantage non-subscriber customers.”
As per the new rules, any games included in a streaming service’s catalogue must be hosted as a separate app on the App Store, which are subject to the Apple’s usual App Store rules – including the 30 per cent cut that has caused the ongoing Epic v Apple legal battle.
“Streaming game services may offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find the games on the App Store, provided that the app adheres to all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple. All the games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.
“Each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc,” adds Apple. “Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.”
While these new rules don’t explicitly ban game streaming services, they do require significant changes to how these services operate, and are therefore unlikely to appear on Apple’s platform under the current guidelines.
Microsoft, in a statement issued to The Verge, has criticised these new guidelines, stating:
“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. We’re committed to putting gamers at the center of everything we do, and providing a great experience is core to that mission.”