Gaming services in the cloud are now a reality. Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia are the most popular. However, despite the fact that they are designed to play on low-powered devices such as mobile phones, they are not going to reach one of the largest mobile phone manufacturers in the world: Apple.
Microsoft’s service announced that it will arrive on Android on September 15, without any mention of Apple phones. Something similar happens with Google Stadia, available on Android phones but not on the iPhone. It is no coincidence, and it is because as they are designed (or how Apple’s App Store is designed), they cannot be distributed on iOS devices.
“Sending games individually for review”
In statements from Apple they have explained the reason for this absence of streaming game services on their devices. It all has to do with how Apple manages the content that is distributed and reaches its users. Assuming that the App Store is a “safe and reliable place for customers” as they review every app and game that is sold, they say that this is not possible with services like xCloud and Google Stadia.
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In other words, Apple cannot check that every game on Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadia for example complies with its guidelines and standards for iOS. In Apple’s words: “Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and game services can absolutely be released 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 appear in rankings and searches.”
The important part of these statements is in “including submission of games individually for review”. Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud operate in this way, since they offer the games to users directly through their app from the companies’ own servers. Games are not stored locally on iPhone or iPad, there is no installation of them. In other words, Apple cannot know what each user is consuming and cannot ensure that it is legal content according to its standards. You also can’t get an income from it.
We will see if in the coming months services like Microsoft or Google find a way to be available in the App Store and thus reach iPhone or iPad users. To do this, they will have to find a way to comply with Apple standards.