App Store Revisions Are a Middle Finger to Microsoft (Updated)

Posted on September 11, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Games, Project xCloud, Mobile gaming, Mobile, iOS, iPadOS with 120 Comments

Update: Microsoft has issued the following statement about Apple’s changes.

“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.”

Apple issued a set of new and revised App Store guidelines today, but all they did for Microsoft was enforce the previous ban that prevented the software giant from bringing Project xCloud—or “Game Streaming” in Xbox Game Pass—to iPhone and iPad.

“Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines,” Apple’s revised documentation notes, “For example, 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. Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.”

The documentation also reiterates that while app makers “may offer a single subscription that is shared across your own apps and services,” 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.”

That is, Microsoft cannot simply provide its Xbox Game Pass app on iOS and let gamers stream games from its own catalog. This notion is reinforced elsewhere in the documentation, which adds, “Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, has user ratings and review, can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control apps, appears on the user’s device, etc.”

Apple will allow game streaming apps like Xbox Game Pass to offer a catalog app on the App Store, but the purpose of this is to let customers sign-up for the service so that Apple gets its 30 percent vig, of course. The app must give “users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple.”

Sigh. F’ing Apple.

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Comments (120)

120 responses to “App Store Revisions Are a Middle Finger to Microsoft (Updated)”

  1. martinusv2

    And to learn later that Apple is going to provide a game streaming services of their own :)

      • SvenJ

        In reply to jimchamplin: Apple Arcade is not a streaming service. It provides you the opportunity to download a wide gamut of apps from the app store for 'free', i.e. a monthly fee. It actually does comply with the 'new' rules, having each app individually vetted and downloaded.

        • jgraebner

          In reply to SvenJ:

          They are thwarting competition by making a rule that everyone has to do a game service the same way that Apple did or else they are banned from the platform. The fact that services like XCloud and Stadia aren't really possible to implement that way is probably not lost on the decisionmakers at Apple.

      • Vladimir Carli

        In reply to jimchamplin:

        exactly, they already have a gaming service. Even if it's not streaming, it's competing on mobile. It's typical anticompetitive behaviour

  2. olditpro2000

    Star Trek fans will appreciate this.

    The TNG episode "The Ensigns of Command" was rerun on H&I tonight.

    I caught bits of it while doing dishes and was struck by just how similar Apple is to the Sheliak alien race.

  3. SRLRacing

    This still does not make game streaming tenable in the least bit. We are focusing on Game Pass titles that are offered over Xcloud and having to submit and maintain a couple hundred apps is already lunacy. Additionally, I am certain Microsoft plans to have all Xbox titles going forward available to stream via Xcloud either as part of Game Pass or as part of your personal library of purchased games. So in let's say 5 years as the games available for streaming grows you could be having to submit and maintain thousands of individual apps as part of a single service that need to be tested across multiple generations of iPhones, iPads, and iOS releases and any or all of them could break with the release of a software update or new hardware release. Nobody, not even 2 of the world's largest companies have the resources to deal with that.

    • Vladimir Carli

      In reply to SRLRacing:

      even if they had the resources it would be an incredible waste of time and money. And for what? To agree with Apple terribleness? I hope Microsoft retires all of their apps from the iOS store. I wonder what would happen then

  4. derekabraham

    Microsoft had the same policy (and still has for Windows App store and XBox game store) ever since they debuted it with Windows Phone. Unfortunately for them it was not a success and now it is a case of sour apples. Google gives app store access for free, but it is a wasteland of crappy apps.

    I am not saying what App is doing is right - they should set an upper limit to what they can charge a software developer. They do have a market place to run and sustain and can charge a reasonable amount - charging 30% of all revenues is not good for anyone.

    • Paul Thurrott

      This isn't sour anything. It's just unfair. Microsoft, like everyone else in the industry, just copied what Apple did. That doesn't make it right, and it doesn't mean anything today since Apple now controls a market of over one billion customers.
      • bkkcanuck

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        What! I constantly hear how Apple Store was not the first... before the Apple Store we had consoles. If you go back to the beginning of what the iPhone was envisioned as -- Steve Jobs said it was a console. So if Apple was not the first, then they were only copying what Apple copied.

      • mestiphal

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Wait what? is that a new statistic Apple is pulling? one billion customers. Seven billion people in the planet, I doubt one out of seven people is an Apple customer.

        • Jorge Garcia

          In reply to Mestiphal:

          It's active iOS devices. I think there are a ton of households where Mom, Pop and the two kids all have iPhones, but there are also three "active" iPads lying between the seat cushoins as well. And, if there's a baby you give it the old iPhone 5 to watch cartoons on. Not sure if they're counting Apple watch, but the 1.5 Billion figure definitely has to. What I'm saying is there 's a lot of overlap ;) But it still has to be like 700 million, or one of ten/eleven humans on the planet. As for just smartphones, Apple's global market share is pretty steady around 15% according to IDC. the sites that claim that Apple has 30% of the smartphone market are BS, they only count "urban" China and do other tricks like count iPads in the mix.

        • shameer_mulji

          In reply to Mestiphal:

          Then you would be wrong. On multiple financial conference calls, Tim Cook has stated that Apple has one billion customers.

        • Paul Thurrott

          No, that's not new.
        • jgraebner

          In reply to Mestiphal:

          The most recent reports have it more like 1.5 billion active devices. That's how they got to be the first $2 trillion company recently. The number of individual users are probably less due to people with multiple devices, but I expect it is still over a billion.

  5. crunchyfrog

    I am confused. I admit That I'm not well informed about App Store policies specifically, however why is this such an issue about gaming? I buy stuff on Amazon all of the time but Apple is not getting 30% of those purchases. I pay Netflix and Hulu a monthly subscription directly and Apple gets no cut on those. Is this strictly about game streaming?

  6. spiderman2

    but but apple did this ONLY because they care about their users and they're worried of what games could be streamed

    • jc

      In reply to spiderman2:

      Does this mean that TV Shows and movie companies have to submit Movies and TV Shows to Apple before being allowed to Stream through Netflix... Askin' for a friend...

      • michael_goff

        In reply to JC:

        I didn't know moves and TV shows were an interactive medium. Huh. You learn something new every day.

        Listen, Apple is being shit here but maybe make good comparisons.

        • jgraebner

          In reply to Michael_Goff:

          Netflix does have a handful of interactive TV shows or movies (basically a "Choose Your Own Adventure" type experience), but maybe they are still too few to have gotten onto Apple's radar.

          That said, I'm not sure why interactivity should require such a radically different policy. In each case, we are still talking about content that is streamed from the cloud with minimal processing on the client.

  7. jdjan

    I think Apple looks at it this way:

    - They don't charge developers to distribute free Apps.

    - If you signed up outside of Apple and already have your credentials, then no fee either.

    - If you sign up through iOS then Apple brought you a new customer and you pay the 30% commission


    I'm not saying it's right, but there are plenty of things that I found through the App Store, that I felt were safe to try and safe to pay for (a little known fact is that you can return apps you don't like and get a refund - no questions asked).

    There is value in distributing through the App Store. And, as Microsoft has chosen to do, no developer has to distribute their wares that way. We may not see XCloud on iOS which is too bad, but I understand why not.

    • jim_vernon

      In reply to jdjan:

      I hate this attitude. Apple didn't bring anyone a customer. They simply forced themselves to be a middleman for people who already were looking for a service simply because that person paid a lot for a piece of hardware and cannot easily switch.

      • Jorge Garcia

        In reply to Jim_Vernon:

        Correct. But an astonishing number of people have been brainwashed. People would be mad as heck if Ford got a 30% cut whenever you bought new tires for your Ford at Pep Boys...or if they charged an arbitrary 30% tax on whatever you hauled in your pickup bed.

      • Greg Green

        In reply to Jim_Vernon:

        Apple didn't bring anyone a customer??

        They've got a billion high spending customers. Apple customers spend 4x on apps compared to what android users spend. Apple brings them that billion.

      • bkkcanuck

        In reply to Jim_Vernon:

        Before the Apple app store model - the prior model for phone devices is you literally had to raise capital and buy your way onto communications devices sold by phone companies.

        Apple could change the model to maybe like others where the development tools cost money (lets say $700, the cost of a subscription that allows for all the things like beta copies of stuff and access to the store - lets say maybe $1,199 / year).... then lower the commission substantially. The agency model of 30% favors smaller developers (or those distributing free apps) at the expense of very large ones.... you get worldwide distribution, hosting (redownloading), tax processing, etc... Would I prefer a 20% model or maybe a 30% model with the first $n revenue free - yes... but from a user perspective I actually prefer my software through a single distributor... whenever I do a new installation of the OS (I do it fresh yearly) or copy it from one device to another... I literally install the new macOS version freshly, log into the app store ... then click install on maybe 35 apps that I have accumulated in the store... much easier than before... If given the choice between equivalent apps on the app store or downloaded directly and purchased directly - I will chose the app store.

        • Jogy

          In reply to bkkcanuck:

          > If given the choice between equivalent apps on the app store or downloaded directly and purchased directly - I will chose the app store.

          Would you still keep that preference, if the app developers were allowed to pass the full or at least part of the app store tax (30%) to you?

          The current model is that if you purchase through the app store, the developer gets only 70%, and they are not even allowed to inform you of this.

          • bkkcanuck

            In reply to Jogy:

            If they were able to pass a portion of that on to me, yes -- I would likely still likely prefer the Apple store. I have never had any issues on installing and running apps on both my laptop and desktop (I do have one non-app store app [Screenflow] which I have to remember to un-license on my desktop before picking up my laptop; Windows I had much more than that). Apps in the App store tend on average to have a longer lifespan between paid upgrades. And it shaves a day or so off of setting up a new computer after wiping it down and setting up again (a couple times a year - several days of lost time). I don't have to worry about the re-downloading the latest version licensed (some developers use other services - which is included as an additional paid item - they don't 'host' it for free). There are even some apps that the developer makes available in both the app store on macOS and directly ... which means there is value in being visible in the App Store.

            I don't want what happened to TV OTT where every tom and jerry has their own app store and it becomes fragmented. It might not be something Windows users really understand, I have only bought one thing in the MS Windows store and that was a codec.

            Yeah, I don't know any store that allows you to talk about internal contract details and post it in their store... be it brick and mortar or online...

            • Jogy

              In reply to bkkcanuck:

              > Yeah, I don't know any store that allows you to talk about internal contract details and post it in their store... be it brick and mortar or online...

              There are some businesses that, when you are paying with a credit card, pass the processing tax to you (or surcharge you in other ways). And the processing tax is just 3.5%

              So I definitely think that developer that use app stores (no matter if it is Apple, Google or Microsoft) should be allowed to pass part of the store tax (30%) to the user, should they decide that they want to.

        • jgraebner

          In reply to bkkcanuck:

          You are describing the earlier process for getting applications onto basic cell phones, but for pre-Apple smartphone platforms the model was much more like traditional personal computers. Phones running Palm OS, Windows Mobile, Symbian or Blackberry OS could all install third party applications that were downloaded from the developer's own web site.

  8. dallasnorth40

    I'm Apple free and never going back.

  9. unfalln

    Available EXCLUSIVELY on Android!

  10. spullum

    Am I misunderstanding that each streaming title would need its own launcher but could share the login (and I believe but not sure shared libraries within the app group) with all other Xbox streaming titles and having each game as its own App will just have them show up in search as individual entities?

    I don’t believe anything needs to be on device game code wise, right? Some are thinking the games have to download to the device which it didn’t sound like.

    It seems like Apple is wanting 30% if someone pays for Xbox Game Pass within any of the game container apps? Otherwise there’s no charge?

    So, Microsoft must submit to in-app-purchase if and only if someone wants to sign up within any of the game app containers or Game Pass collection app?

    Even if it’s a bit more work why wouldn’t they put all of their games on the store? Then they’d show up in search.

    And any users who hadn’t heard of Game Pass would be “from Apple” users while any who signed up from Xbox/elsewhere would give Microsoft 100%.

    I get why any company would want 100% vs. 70% but I also get why Sony, NINTENDO, and Xbox don’t let just anyone put games on their console stores at no charge and why Wal-mart doesn’t allow other businesses to set up lemonade stands next to their food court.

    • jgraebner

      In reply to spullum:

      If that were all that was required, I think that Microsoft would at least consider going that route. The problem is that Apple is also requiring that each and every game be reviewed separately and completely follow all the rules and standards for the App Store, rules and standards that aren't really designed for the console/PC games offered through Game Pass. On top of that, for most of the games that are on the service, Microsoft isn't the developer, which would bring all those other companies, most of which are not mobile developers, into the mix.

      Microsoft also has their own set of rules and standards for the Game Pass service, many of which are certainly centered around the idea that the games should essentially give an identical experience regardless of platform. Adhering to Apple's requirements would effectively cause Apple's rules to supersede Microsoft's own, placing them in a situation of having to either fork the games intended to stream to iOS (if the developers are even willing to maintain another version) or forcing Apple's rules to apply on Android, XBox, PC, etc.

      Apple is effectively trying to torpedo the intended business model for these products in favor of one that is more conducive to Apple's walled garden approach.

  11. Jogy

    In reply to lvthunder:

    Apple stated "For example, each game update must be submitted for review".

    This does not look like a "simple stub app". It sounds like Apple want every new full game and every update to pass through their slow review process.

    If it was for user convenience to find the games on their home screen, Apple could have just implemented the deep link functionality that was available many years ago in Windows Phone 7/8

  12. Jogy

    In reply to lvthunder:

    Not giving you a break. Apple stated "For example, each game update must be submitted for review".

    This does not look like a "simple stub app". It sounds like Apple want every new full game and every update to pass through their slow review process.

    If it was for user convenience to find the games on their home screen, Apple could have just implemented the deep link functionality that was available many years ago in Windows Phone 7/8

  13. jgraebner

    In reply to lvthunder:

    If the rules make the product untenable, then that is the same as not allowing it. And if the rules are being set by a dominant platform owner who is also a competitor, then potential antitrust issues come into play. And if the rules are unethical, even if they turn out to be legal, then customers may choose to go elsewhere.

    The whole idea that Apple can do whatever they want without consequences is nonsense.

  14. JH_Radio

    I'm no gamer but who's gona download 100 games? Plus if that is local storage you'd need a lot for that wouldn't you? I thought the entire point was to stream from the cloud?

    • IanYates82

      In reply to JH_Radio:

      They're still streamed - the dowload would be a launcher & stream host. Still stupid, but it's not the whole game (no phone has the horsepower for the AAA games)

    • wright_is

      In reply to JH_Radio:

      Apple is still dragging its heals in the old world. It is scared of losing its app-store monopoly and is sticking its head in the sand and hoping the new world will just go away and stop bothering it.

  15. gardner

    If I want to play such and such a game on my iPhone, i should be able to search for the game, see the icon, and then launch the game. As a user what do i care if the game is a streaming game or a PWA game or a native game? All I want to do is play it. No one cares about the tech thats driving it.

    I just know what game i want to play. How do i launch it? I don't buy that someone wanting to play a game on xbox's streaming service WANTS to launch a second app store, as if somehow the app store was the important thing to run. Its the GAME i want to run, not the app store.

    If i have to care about the tech used to write the app in order to know how to launch it, thats an awful user experience.

    To my way of thinking, there must be an icon for everything i think of as an app or game. I don't care if its a link to a webpage, a link to a streaming master app, or a link to a native app.

    On this narrow aspect, that each app you run needs to have an icon, Apple is 100 percent right. I may disagree with all the backend and in app purchase and percentage stuff, but -- in this case -- I think they happen to be looking out for the user experience (at least in part).

    How many users are going to go "I want to play game epiccrash" and the way i want to load it is to remember that its sold by such and such a company, and their streaming platform is called xyz, so i want to launch the streaming app first, and then i want to find epiccrash in their app store, after signing in using a different id and password than my phone, and then I want to launch the app from there"

    Compare that to Apple's idea: every game should be launch-able from your iPhone directly, regardless of the tech used to write it and display it.

    • IanYates82

      In reply to gardner:

      WinPhone had deep links back in the day where you had an app - say the maps app - and could add shortcuts (tiles!) to your home screen that went in to that app and then to the thing to which you linked.

      That would be more useful for Apple to support.

      And are you arguing that just because it might be a less than optimal user experience it should be *banned*?

    • jgraebner

      In reply to gardner:

      I see your point, but remember that we are talking about subscription services. XCloud is more akin to Netflix than it is to an app store. Is launching the XCloud app to find and select a game to play really that much different than launching the Netflix app to find and select a movie or TV show?

      From a user experience standpoint, I think it would be great if iOS allowed services like XCloud (or Netflix for that matter) to let users pin shortcuts to specific content on the home screen, but forcing each item of content to have a separate entry in the App Store and go through the entire Apple review process really doesn't seem to have a lot of consumer benefit.

  16. jfgordon

    To be fair, this is the way that Apple Arcade works as well: you download individual games. I think that makes sense, because in this way you have all your games "at the same level" as independent apps, that you can browse, rearrange, uninstall, etc. I now have half a dozen game stores on my PC and that is _not_ a good user experience: remembering which game is in which store, different UI, login and launch procedures, update methods, and so on. (Of course I could use direct links to the games' exes, but that is not how the systems are generally designed to work.)

    The difference with the movie experience is obvious, because you do not keep viewing the same movie, so a movie "app" does not make sense. The difference with songs is also obvious, because you have many more songs than games, a gaming sessions is much longer than a one-song listening session, and games "playlist" or "albums" do not really make sense.

    So, having different UXs for different entertainment forms makes a lot of sense, imho, and Apple gets it, as usual. Using a movie-like UI for games is like using a phone-like UI for a PC... wait a minute...

    • wright_is

      In reply to jfgordon:
      To be fair, this is the way that Apple Arcade works as well: you download individual games.

      There is, however, a big difference. If you buy films from Apple's store, you download them. But you don't download all the series and films you watch on Netflix, or YouTube. Xcloud is the gaming equivalent to Netflix, the game is never on your device.

      • jfgordon

        In reply to wright_is:

        I believe that the general user need not / does not want / is too young to understand the difference. You tap the icon and you play, that's it. Most popular games do not work if you are offline anyway. Again, I think that the Apple way (we can like it or not, but it is their way) is to design the service from the point of view of the user, not the engineer. Even an important technical difference like this should be transparent to the user, who just want to play a game.

        • FullyLoaded

          In reply to jfgordon:

          That may have been true 10-15 years ago, but today people are used to using subscription services for their entertainment. They know which movies and TV shows they watch on Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Crave, Apple iTunes, Disney+, etc...

    • jgraebner

      In reply to jfgordon:

      It's a matter of opinion which model is preferable. Personally, I can see merit to both approaches. The big problem is that Apple, as usual, has decided that the model they adopted is the only valid one. And, coincidentally, it just happens to be the model that gives Apple a big advantage over their competitors.

      • jfgordon

        In reply to jgraebner:

        Apple has decided that the model they adopted is the only valid one *on their own platform*, which is pretty legit, imho. They do not sue other companies to dictate how their app stores should work.

        • jgraebner

          In reply to jfgordon:

          When a company's platform has 50% or more of the market share, they don't get to just set the rules any way they want. That is why they are facing legal action. Whether or not the legal system finds that they have violated antitrust laws is yet to be seen. Also, it is completely possible for a policy to be legal and still be unethical.

  17. RM2016

    Might be an opening here for Microsoft to develop a Xbox phone with Asus or Razer. Not sure how that would affect the relationship with Samsung. A niche product like that might be more plausible. The question is how important are the apps that they can't bring to the mobile gamer. Two of my kids would love it and one wouldn't.

    • wright_is

      In reply to RM2016:

      That will still leave Apple users in the lurch... They use the iPhone for a reason and they aren't going to change, just to get Xcloud - well, a majority won't.

      • jgraebner

        In reply to wright_is:

        This is true, but ultimately Apple needs the key developers as much as they need Apple. If there are too many that pull their products like Epic has or are unable to launch there like XCloud, they run the risk of falling into the app situation that killed Windows Phone and Palm WebOS. Obviously, Apple is a long way from having that problem now, of course, which is why they currently feel that they have a lot of leverage.

  18. RM2016

    I think this one will resolve itself if Google doesn’t do the same. Anyone that interested in gaming would likely switch to Android. It will be interesting to see what Sony would do if they developed a streaming service. I don’t think there is any doubt that Microsoft engaged in anti-competitive practices, but the level to which Apple and Google engage in it eclipses what Microsoft did. However, the problem with Sherman Act prosecutions is that they are political and often arbitrary.  

  19. RM2016

    I think the Epic 1984 parody ad says it all.

  20. winner

    Apple is going to push to maximize their revenue until/unless some entity(ies) manage to slow them down. Other companies, or governments.

  21. Jogy

    Is there a similar restriction for browser based games? That all of them should be curated and published in the Apple store before you can play them in a browser on an iPhone or iPad?

    • jgraebner

      In reply to Jogy:

      There isn't and Apple is citing that as the available alternative if companies like Microsoft or Google don't want to adapt their gaming services to the App Store's requirements. Of course, Apple has also steadfastly refused to implement the APIs in Safari that would potentially make this kind of service workable in the browser.

  22. Travis

    Sold my iPad Pro (pre-ordered a new Tab S7 in full with the proceeds), sold my iphone (paid for a OP7T), sold my apple watch (it paid for galaxy watch active 2), swapped my Apple TV for a Roku. Not just because of Gamepass, but that was the final straw. I have sworn them off for good. Now i need to make my kids switch when they are due for replacements. My wife is a lost cause.

    • Hawaiianteg

      In reply to Travis:

      Good! That means you never understood Apple and shouldnt have been here to begin with. I dont want Apple ruining their ecosystem that I EXPECT from them just because some tech whiners feel like Apple should do it their way. Sorry buddy Apple can do whatever they want. Go to android and enjoy that sweet open platform that everyone likes to brag about, you will not be missed.

    • michael_goff

      In reply to Travis:

      I've never understood forcing a family member to switch platforms on the basis of what you like. It just feels weird to me.

      • Travis

        In reply to Michael_Goff:

        Well in my case I have kids under 10. I like to be able to manage screen time. Now that I'm not in that ecosystem I can't so my wife is stuck with it all and she doesn't like dealing with it, but she wants it enforced. So not sure your situation but my kids could not care less if they have android or ios.

        • michael_goff

          In reply to Travis:

          That makes more sense. I was just confused by the wording "make my kids", as if they wanted to stay on the iPhone but you were like "Yeah, no, I don't like Apple. Suck it up."

  23. Andi

    Apple knows that game streaming will be big. It also knows that these services have enough clout that they don't need a "sign-in" button from within the app, just like Netflix. Apple wants to prevent this scenario or one like Kindle where you can buy from outside the app and just consume from within thus leaving Apple without a cut.

    Thankfully so many of you have already realized that this new rule is so "cockamany" that it's transparent in its purpose; Apple's cut.

  24. jm2016

    Of course this is an empty gesture - no surprise. This will play out the same as in the past. Apple won't make any meaningful concessions on the app store, but eventually, will come to a private deal with Microsoft, like they've done with Amazon and Netflix.

    Treat all developers equally... yeah, right.

    • SvenJ

      In reply to jm2016: Allowing all developers to negotiate a better deal, providing benefit to Apple in exchange for benefits in return, is not only equal treatment, but normal business. Not just blindly defending Apple but giving Amazon a break on the initial subscripting fee, in exchange for carrying Apple products on Amazon seems an arrangement between two businesses. Granted not many have something to offer, but that's life.

  25. brian_irelan

    Imagine if Netflix was forced to submit each movie as a separate app.

    The only reason that doesn't happen is because they beat Apple to the punch in the streaming game, and their userbase would not accept such a policy. Apple has drawn a line in the sand here to delay that from happening with gaming for as long as possible.

    • Kelly Hunter

      In reply to Brian_Irelan:

      I had the same thought. It's actually a good precedent - the don't have this rule for streaming video or music, despite offering purchases of the individual titles separates on their store, so why should they be allowed for games?

      • Hawaiianteg

        In reply to Kelly_Hunter:

        No its not. Apple has NEVER since the opening of the app store required a review of media like music and video other then no porn. They have ALWAYS required reviewing game. You guys keep bringing this up as a argument and its so invalid it makes my head hurt. They have stayed consistent in that area so I dont know why you guys keep bringing that up when they have never done that to begin with.

        • jgraebner

          In reply to Hawaiianteg:

          The difference is that game streaming is a new thing. Services like XCloud, Stadia, and NVidia GForce have all launched in the last year. Other than Apple protecting their revenue stream, it is really hard to understand why game streaming should be treated differently than video and music streaming. In each case, the app is just a thin client while the content resides entirely on non-Apple servers.

          • atimms

            In reply to jgraebner:


            Apple doesn't have it's own offering and is obviously envious so it is doing whatever it can to ensure it doesn't reach their ecosystem without them getting a large cut.

            Each game having to be a separate app is one thing, have to resubmit upon every patch is a complete joke.

            It's ONE app basically streaming video with the difference that control inputs are sent back. It should be treated the same as NetFlix etc.

            In fact, doesn't NetFlix have a few branching games/videos; are those available via the iOS app? Because if they are, do explain why... by Apple's rational they shouldn't be!

            BTW, Where's Apple's explanation for breaking their own rules (30% cut) for Amazon Prime....tumbleweed... rules aren't applied equally as they keep claiming, they're applied to benefit themselves. They wanted Prime on ATV so bent the rules. Stop pretending. Doing that deal undermined their arguments.

      • brian_irelan

        In reply to Kelly_Hunter:

        As just another thought, the comparison with Netflix lines up except that it doesn't offer in-app purchases the same way games do, but Apple's restrictions goes beyond blocking third-party payments.

        If payment options were the only restriction, I would doubt there would be any technical hurdles for Microsoft in building a system that blocks or redirects in-app purchases, because they all go through the Microsoft Store anyway. I think they could work around that.

        The requirement to submit every piece of media available in the library as a separate app for Apple to review individually (and every patch individually) is where the difference in treatment lies.

    • shameer_mulji

      In reply to Brian_Irelan:

      "Imagine if Netflix was forced to submit each movie as a separate app."

      Digital goods like movies, music, podcasts, books are not classified as apps whether it's Apple's App Store, Google Play Store or even MS Windows Store. Try going to the App Store or Google Play Store and download a song, book, podcast or movie separately. You can't. They're only offered via another service like Apple Music, Spotify, Kindle Book Store, Amazon Prime, etc.. Where as with games, they can be downloaded individually outside of a service on all of the app stores I've mentioned.

      Having said all that, I do agree with Paul that Apple's "new" guidelines are a middle finger to not only MS but all streaming game services.

      • jgraebner

        In reply to shameer_mulji:

        That's simply incorrect. Google, Microsoft and Sony all offer some combination of apps, movies, TV shows, ebooks, and games in a single store. Apple is really the exception.

      • Hawaiianteg

        In reply to shameer_mulji:

        Exactly media like that has always been treated differently. And as to your last part, im glad Apple is giving them the middle finger. Microsoft must not like the feeling being on the opposite side of that finger for a change.

  26. scovious

    I hope Microsoft keeps xCloud off iOS. I don't want to have hundreds of 0 GB Game Pass icons on my iPhone just for the freedom to play my subscription. On top of that, knowing that Apple was taking 30% of everything I did while banning developers from mentioning their alternatives, would make me feel like a scumbag. I would rather switch platforms for my next phone.

  27. olditpro2000

    Typical Apple non-starter "response."

    Microsoft should make a quality single-screen Surface xPhone, price it between $500-$800, and sell it with a year of Game Pass Ultimate.

  28. jdawgnoonan

    Arrogant as usual, and not a good decision if they truly want to convince users that an iPad is a replacement for a computer.

  29. rusty chameleon

    Well it's not like Microsoft has flung their finger at users before.

    • Paul Thurrott

      That totally makes it OK for another company to F everyone over, sure.
    • Hawaiianteg

      In reply to rusty chameleon:

      We dont talk about that around here. This is the Hate apple no matter what they do club.

      • Paul Thurrott

        In reply to Hawaiianteg:

        I don't have time this kind of bullshit.

        This is about being fair. And, in this case, about being on the right side of history.

        As for "hate Apple," ...

        Give it f'ing rest.

        • ilidd

          In reply to paul-thurrott:

          I know I'm late to the party here, but I think the problem is that people view iOS like a PC. It's not. It's closer to the model that existed in computing before just about everything became a boring clone of an IBM Personal Computer. The business model of iOS is like that of a console, and the last time I checked, Microsoft doesn't allow Sony to make Playstation Now available at zero cost on Xbox. So there's no high road or "right side of history" here.

          Now, since opinions are like ***holes, I have one as well: xCloud is Microsoft using their influence and dominance in one area to try to eliminate nascent competitors in another (and if someone doesn't think Apple won't become a competitor in the gaming space, I don't think they're paying attention.)

          Which doesn't even attempt to dive into the murky waters of streaming games not really being good for end users/customers in the first place. It's great for Microsoft. It gets them farther away from low-margin hardware and physical media, and into extremely high-margin cloud and software services. So maybe influence and dominance stuff was a bit of hyperbole compared to the business justification of all this. But so is the implication that a company offering a closed-platform is somehow on the wrong side of history. *shrugs*

          Anyway, I think Microsoft's comment on all of this is a lesson in contradiction. If they really care about end user experience, and one curated store, they wouln't be trying to get their secondary curated store onto iOS. But that's a whole other tangent.

  30. Vladimir Carli

    Apple is pissing me off so much that I am really considering getting out of their ecosystem after 15 years and after buying a number of apple devices I cant even count. I don't think it will ever happen but I dream a situation were major players pull off of iOS. No Microsoft office on iOs, no google maps on iOS, no spotify on iOs, no Netflix etc. It would be costly but I bet at some point apple would have to concede

  31. mrdrwest

    And that's why I'll never willingly buy ANY Apple product or service.

  32. reformedctrlz

    It's like apple is daring people to get pissed and sue them.. Unfortunately the market for streaming games isn't big enough yet for the exclusion on Apple to be a huge deal, but as time goes on, the fact that Stadia and xCloud aren't allowed on iOS is gonna bite apple in the ass. Especially if MSFT and Google just make little pages online that say, we want to and the apps are ready to go. As soon as Apple stops being an asshole.

  33. codymesh

    Apple: give us 30% for the privilege of running the product on your servers and listing the video stream as an app on our store!

  34. mattbg

    I was on the fence with the App Store tax, but it's hard to defend Apple on this one. They are basically making a new potential market untenable on their platform just because it's not designed how they would have done it.

  35. bschnatt

    I'm not a game developer (so I could be talking out of my a**), but I *do* know that WebAssembly really, really speeds up web apps. Maybe Microsoft should encourage game developers to only use C++, D or Rust based tools to write games. WebAssembly supports WebGL, so strategy games could be developed like this, at the very least. Submit the game to Microsoft for inclusion in a browser-based XBox web portal, and voila! - no need to beg for scraps from Apple...

    • IanYates82

      In reply to bschnatt:

      If the games could run in a phone's Web browser we'd not be thay excited about the new consoles being released

      They could maybe try to do game steaming from the browser, but that'd require up to date webRTC support (for low latency audio and video using UDP) and good gamepad support in the browser.

      Safari, especially on iOS, is pretty bad at standards for these things - possibly because Apple would rather you make a native app

      So that comment from Apple in their docs, possibly to pre-emptively thwart some opinion from the govt, that developers could just use the web instead, is just BS

      • bschnatt

        In reply to IanYates82:

        How about Microsoft writing a generic WebAssembly frontend app for their Edge browser on iOS to do the game streaming? It could handle the WebRTC stuff (or equivalent) directly? Imagine DirectX implemented in WebAssembly, LOL :) Like I said, I'm not a game developer, so your mileage may vary... ;)

      • IanYates82

        In reply to IanYates82:

        Maybe Microsoft could ensure edge on iOS at least supports gamepads well, and if they can improve or somehow implement better webRTC support around the mandatory safari engine, then there's a slim vehicle for xcloud on iOS down the line.

        Marketing it that way will get edge banned, but just as a web browser that happens to light up more features for a Microsoft service (like it does for office 365, or Chrome does for Google docs) it'd be hard to ban.

        No 30% vig either... It would make the line very blurred and Apple would really jump through hoops to justify shuttering a browser

        • Vladimir Carli

          In reply to IanYates82:

          I don't think they can do that. Apple doesn't allow browsers that are not based on webkit and they develop webkit on purpose to not support anything that could harm them. No PWA for example. Stadia runs perfectly on Chrome on any android phone or tablet but it doesn't run on Chrome on iOS. If they could pull this off and make it work it would be a very nice kick in the balls for apple but I don't think is possible

  36. xapache

    Although I have no intent on playing games via xcloud - this really pisses me off. Apple, a trillion+ dollar operation, has to continue to milk every last dollar out of developers.

    I am seriously considering moving to an android phone even though....Google. Maybe a Samsung phone is in play for me.

  37. nbplopes

    Apple is just pushing its envelope to see as far will the actors in the market allow this. When I mean the market I mean all, from customers of all kinds including producers and regulators.

    What they are doing sets a very dangerous precedence to all digital businesses. Meaning if the unthinkable is allowed, Google, Amazon and MS will have leeway to peruse exactly the same thing. The businesses in the middle will get squeezed like milking cows by all major corps.

    I’m starting to get a bit upset with their attitude towards the industry now.

    • spiderman2

      In reply to nbplopes:

      I love apple fanboys are so cute

    • SvenJ

      In reply to nbplopes: Well, game streaming is a fairly new technology. Apples current terms of reference don't fit it very well, and they are applying them literally. They are making adjustments, though the current adjustment doesn't really help anything. If various entities currently suing Apple get what they want, it sets up the potential for Apple to receive no income from the app store what so ever. That's not a viable outcome either.

      • jgraebner

        In reply to SvenJ:

        Yeah, if they can't get income from the app store, they might have to resort to allowing people to get software for their device from whatever source they want to. You know, just like on just about every successful computing platform before iOS.