New App Store rule provides small opening for xCloud and Stadia games on iOS

Apple has released new App Store guidelines that provide a small opening for game streaming services. You can’t release an xCloud or Stadia app, but games can be offered on an individual basis. They must be downloadable

In the changes states that games offered in a streaming subscription service must be downloaded directly from the App Store. Also, these games must be designed to avoid a situation where a subscriber pays double. With the latter, Apple is probably referring to the scenario as with Fortnite, where a payment system which was outside the App Store. Furthermore, each game update must be presented individually to Apple before the renewals become available to the players. Each streaming game submitted to the App Store must have a separate App Store page, so that user ratings are possible and, for example, the ScreenTime feature can be used.

Those requirements mean that, for example, Microsoft and Google cannot release an overarching xCloud or Stages app for iOS, which provides access to all games of those services. What can be done in accordance with the new guidelines is that individual games are offered in the App Store using the streaming technology of the umbrella service, and then, for example, a catalog app is released that collects and links all individual apps to them. All games collected in it must then link to their individual App Store page. Furthermore, such a catalog app must provide the option to pay for a subscription through an in-app purchase and the Sign in with Apple option must be present. The other App Store guidelines also apply, which means that the policy that can hold Apple up to thirty percent of revenue.

A month ago, it became clear that it was up to the Apple rules that for example Microsoft can’t release an xCloud app for iOS. Microsoft complained about this claiming that Apple reviews game streaming apps differently from other apps and that Apple is the only one that prevents its users from steaming games. A first-name objection from Apple is that xCloud runs on Microsoft’s Xbox consoles and not locally on the user’s device. In fact, this objection is still leading, as the games from the streaming services still need to be downloaded in accordance with the new guidelines. That requirement alone makes it unlikely that Microsoft or Google, for example, will bite quickly. The Verge asked Google for comment, but the company declined.

Apple has also set new guidelines that would allow the company to respond to the previous conflict with email service Hey. The Cupertino-based company declined to release a temporary update to the service in the App Store. Hey was developed by the creators of Basecamp and the Basecamp director complained that this move by Apple had to do with the lack of an option for users to make in-app purchases. An App Store reviewer found that Hey provides access to content, subscriptions, or features purchased elsewhere, but those items were not available in the form of in-app purchases from within the app. Hansson said this was an attempt by Apple to claim 15 to 30 percent of its revenue. Such a conflict is unlikely to occur any time soon, as there is a new directive stating that free standalone apps that serve as an entry point to a paid web tool no longer need to use in-app purchases.