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

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