Apple's Terms for Game Streaming Don't Bode Well for xCloud and Stadia

Stadia mockup running on and iPhone Razer / Ubisoft

It looks like streaming game services Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud won’t be available on iPhone or iPad anytime soon. Today, Apple clarified the terms it has drawn up for these services, confirming some of the Microsoft’s earlier criticisms. Based on the guidelines, the outlook for iOS games to be released in the near future looks pretty bleak.

Here is an excerpt from the new section of the examination guidelines, 4.9:

4.9 Streaming games

Streaming games are allowed as long as they meet all guidelines – for example, every game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for research, games must use in-app purchase for unlock features or functionality, etc. , there are always internet and web browser applications open to reach all users outside of the Application store.

4.9.1 Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual application so that it has a App Store product page, appears in graphics and search, has user ratings and reviews, can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control apps, appears on user’s device, etc.
4.9.2 Game streaming services may offer a catalog application on the App Store to help users register for the service and find games on the Application store, provided the app meets all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with an in-app purchase and to use Sign In with Apple. All games included in the catalog app must be linked to an individual App Store product page.

If you don’t want to read the legal jargon, the bottom line is that while it’s technically possible for streaming services to be available on iOS, each individual game offered on those services should A) function as its own app, with a list dedicated app in the App Store, and B) pass Apple’s rigorous review process as if it were its own app.

Additionally, all game streaming services will need to offer in-app purchases for games, DLCs, and microtransactions using Connect with Apple and the App Store’s payment processing system. This means that a 30% reduction in the price goes to Apple, which is at the heart of the company’s current conflict with Epic Games.

Fortnite promotional image Apple’s insistence on processing payments with a 30% cut has sparked a very public fight with Fortnite maker Epic Games. Epic games

It should be noted that Apple does not apply the same strict heading to non-gaming streaming services. Not all videos on YouTube or Netflix need a separate iOS app with its own approval process.

While game streaming services can operate within these guidelines, it seems unlikely that any of them would be willing to do so, at least at this stage emerging from streaming service platforms. GeForce NOW and Xbox game streaming both offer hundreds of titles, Stadia has dozens. Publishing all of these games (or accessing them) as individual apps is a huge investment of time and money, not to mention the individual upkeep of each title or the cost of revenue sharing on all game purchases. .

Some see this as an indication that Apple is interested in its own game streaming platform. If I can spit a little: I don’t see this happening. Apple has shown no interest in what kind of tech backbone this would require. If you are looking for a competitive angle here, Apple Arcade subscription is the one to watch. It follows Apple’s own guidelines for individual game downloads and approvals and, of course, benefits Apple tremendously for both initial and recurring purchases.

We expect to hear from Microsoft, Google and others in response to this more explicit description of Apple’s game streaming policy. If any of them say they’re willing to adhere to the terms, we’ll be surprised and happy to report it.

Source: Apple via CNBC

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