Tech giant Apple is reportedly refusing to allow major gaming apps from Microsoft, Google, and Facebook onto its iPhone app store, sparking a skirmish between the Big Tech Masters of the Universe.
Business Insider reports that some of Silicon Valley’s biggest tech giants are facing off over a surprising issue — gaming apps. To have an app published on Apple’s App Store, which delivers apps to its iPhones and iPads, Apple has to approve the app. So far, it has refused to approve gamings apps developed by Microsoft, Facebook, and Google.
The apps that Apple refuses to publish are Microsoft’s Game Pass, Google’s Stadia, and Facebook’s Gaming app, the company is refusing to do so as it argues that it must review every game on the rival companies’ platforms to ensure that they are suitable for Apple’s app store. So far, this Apple review is a condition that the rival tech giants refuse to agree to.
An Apple spokesperson told Business Insider this week: “The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers.”
Apple further added: “Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.”
However, Apple allows services such as Netflix and Spotify to publish their apps in the App Store without reviewing the content published on those platforms. Apple claims that the difference there is that games are interactive unlike music and film and that consumers have expectations related to gaming apps on Apple’s platforms. These expectations range from game content to searchability, in-app payment through Apple’s built-in services, and App Store charts.
After Microsoft announced that its Game Pass streaming service will only be available on Android smartphones and tablets at launch on September 15, a Microsoft spokesperson said on Thursday: “Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store. Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content.”
Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg also expressed her displeasure over Apple’s decision, stating: “Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app — meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android. 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.”
In a tweet thread from the Facebook Gaming account, the company stated: “After months of submissions and repeated rejections by Apple, we’ve had to remove instant games entirely from the standalone app. We can afford to spend ~6 months grinding thru Apple reviews, but many others can’t. And while we could have tried additional appeals, we didn’t want to hold back from launching the version for livestreamers and fans.”
Google Stadia representatives did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider, but these apps being cut off from a large group of mobile users, iPhone and iPad owners, means that this issue is not likely to go away any time soon.
Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan or contact via secure email at the address firstname.lastname@example.org