In a statement released to Business Insider, Apple confirmed that cloud gaming services such as Google Stadia and Microsoft’s Project xCloud violate their app policies.
“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,” reads the statement from Apple. “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. 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.”
What Apple seems to be trying to say via their PR lingo is that cloud gaming services violate the company’s terms of agreement because they allow iOS users to play console and PC games on their devices which Apple cannot individually review and approve via the App Store.
In a statement to The Verge, Microsoft confirms that this policy will prevent them from releasing Project xCloud on iOS devices unless Apple changes their policies or grants them an exception.
“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,” reads the statement from Microsoft. “Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass…We are committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform.”
It’s worth noting that there might be some kind of precedent here for a workaround solution. After all, Valve was able to get Apple to approve the launch of Steam Link on iOS after what seemed to be a great deal of trouble. The difference between Steam Link and cloud services like xCloud and Stadia (at least in terms of Apple’s policy violations) is that Steam Link on iOS lets you access games you already own via hardware. Cloud gaming services essentially add another online store/service to your Apple device which Apple fears not only opens them up to not only unregulated software but seemingly a potential competitor.
We fully believe that cloud gaming will be a big part of the video game industry’s future, but it will be interesting to see how progress in that field is impacted by the roadblocks Apple has created.