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Microsoft Stops Playing Nice, Says Apple's Store Policies Limit Cloud Gaming

A controller with a tablet and a phone showing Project xCloud
(Image credit: Microsoft)

Services like Project xCloud on Xbox GamePass or Nvidia's GeForce could, in theory, let you get PC or console-grade gaming experiences anywhere including your iPhone, but Apple isn't making that easy citing its App Store policies, and Microsoft is finally speaking out.

Microsoft made the following statement to Gizmodo about its relationship with Apple when it comes to Project xCloud:

        “Our testing period for the Project xCloud preview app for iOS has expired. 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. Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content. All games available in the Xbox Game Pass catalog are rated for content by independent industry ratings bodies such as the ESRB and regional equivalents. We are committed to finding a path to bring cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to the iOS platform. We believe that the customer should be at the heart of the gaming experience and gamers tell us they want to play, connect and share anywhere, no matter where they are. We agree."

Long story short, it appears to be down to Apple's terms of service, as the Cupertino-based company claims that cloud gaming services are in violation of its policies -- interactive apps are an issue, it seems, as well as in-app purchases. Apple's statement to Business Insider stated that “Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to 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,” the statement continued. “In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.”

Gizmodo also pointed out that Apple is currently under scrutiny by antitrust regulators. Although Apple doesn't currently have its own game streaming service, if it ever wanted to launch one (which it has considered in the past), it would be convenient not to have any competing platforms. It does have the subscription service Apple Arcade for mobile games.

Google is witnessing similar issues bringing its Stadia platform to iOS.

This isn't the first time that users of Apple products are running into these issues. Two years ago, Apple also made clear that Steam Link wasn't coming to iOS devices despite Valve's plans, citing, you guessed it, policy violations. One year later though, Valve successfully managed to get the service onto the App Store.

  • cknobman
    Why dont they take the same stance with movies and music??
    Reply
  • HyperMatrix
    cknobman said:
    Why dont they take the same stance with movies and music??

    Because if I didn’t have access to Netflix/YouTube/Spotify/Tidal on my iPhone, I’d switch to Android. And even at the start of those businesses, remember Apple was charging them 30% of their subscription fee. They had to fight to get better deals.

    Xbox game pass streaming means people download a free app on the App Store, then gain access to lots of monetized content outside the purview of the Apple App Store. I think regulators need to step in here because it’s clearly anti-competitive behavior by Apple.
    Reply
  • Endymio
    As much as people may dislike Apple's stance here, it would be hard to make an antitrust case against them, given the iPhone's market share is less than 20%.
    Reply
  • jasonelmore
    Endymio said:
    As much as people may dislike Apple's stance here, it would be hard to make an antitrust case against them, given the iPhone's market share is less than 20%.

    Corps can still get hit with anti-trust lawsuits if they engage in anti-competitive behavior. Market share really doesn't matter anymore. Across all industries, we are seeing corps favor their own in-house services over what the competition offers. Policies such as refusing to sell genuine spare parts to consumers and repair shops is one of my most hated Apple policies.
    Reply
  • Endymio
    Corps can still get hit with anti-trust lawsuits if they engage in anti-competitive behavior. Market share really doesn't matter anymore.
    Under US law, for the DOJ to bring a Sec. 2 Sherman Act violation requires the target company to hold monopoly power. That leaves Sec. 1, in which actions are often brought against firms which do not constitute monopolies, but in general only for behavior such as collusion between multiple companies. (i.e. price-fixing agreements).

    European law is a bit less restrictive, but not significantly so, and in general requires either collusion or a certain degree of market dominance. If you recall (one of) the European Union suits against Microsoft required the EU to redefine the application server market in such a manner to give Microsoft majority market share.

    Policies such as refusing to sell genuine spare parts to consumers and repair shops is one of my most hated Apple policies.
    Understandable. But legal, so long as Apple does not hold monopoly power within that industry.
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    I agree with Apple Policies , I dont want iphones to be not secure . and I dont want Cloud Gaming on my Phone.

    I switched from Android to IOS and had to pay Double for the same Phone technology , just for the better Security.
    Reply
  • HyperMatrix
    Endymio said:
    As much as people may dislike Apple's stance here, it would be hard to make an antitrust case against them, given the iPhone's market share is less than 20%.

    Less than 20%? Lol. Completely wrong. That’s the global market share, and only because it’s taking into account all the lower income countries that can’t afford to buy iPhones. In the United States, the iPhone lineup is close to 50% market share.
    Reply
  • atomicWAR
    nofanneeded said:
    I agree with Apple Policies , I dont want iphones to be not secure . and I dont want Cloud Gaming on my Phone.

    I switched from Android to IOS and had to pay Double for the same Phone technology , just for the better Security.

    I can't tell if your being sarcastic or sincere and uniformed. While I'll agree most users of android don't secure their phone as well as they could or should (ie just run stock settings even forgetting the very basics like to add anti-virus/anti-malware), Apple's faith based security only works at all do to their low market share. Their security basically consists of keeping their market share low (20%) so hackers pursue Android who commands the lions share of the market. You could argue it still works but to me it seems like knowing how to clamp down android properly and spending less cash for the same hardware would be more logical.
    Reply
  • Endymio
    HyperMatrix said:
    Less than 20%? Lol. Completely wrong. That’s the global market share...In the United States, the iPhone lineup is close to 50%
    Completely wrong? Not at all. First, allow me to point out that, under existing law, a company's geographic market is the market it does business in; for Apple, it includes the entire world. The DOJ can (and often does) argue for a smaller definition, but it has to do so based on issues like transportation costs, customer ability to shop outside their defined area, cross-elasticity of demand, etc. Again, in the instant case, U.S. customers easily have the ability to buy phones from any world manufacturer, with -- compared to the cost of the phone itself -- trivial transport costs.

    Secondly, even assuming the DOJ could successfully argue for geographic exclusion, Apple could again cite existing case law, for instance the landmark case United States vs. Alcoa (148 F.2d 416 (2d Cir. 1945 ), in which a 90% market share was adjudged adequate to constitute monopoly power, but a 64% market share was not. "Nearly 50%" is not nearly enough.

    Finally, you ignore the third prong of the legal test, which is that, even after establishing a case of monopoly power in the phone market, the DOJ would have to establish tying; to wit that this is leading to monopolization in the cloud gaming market, a segment which is certainly entirely non-geographic, and which, I assume, Apple's share is even smaller.
    Reply
  • nofanneeded
    atomicWAR said:
    I can't tell if your being sarcastic or sincere and uniformed. While I'll agree most users of android don't secure their phone as well as they could or should (ie just run stock settings even forgetting the very basics like to add anti-virus/anti-malware), Apple's faith based security only works at all do to their low market share. Their security basically consists of keeping their market share low (20%) so hackers pursue Android who commands the lions share of the market. You could argue it still works but to me it seems like knowing how to clamp down android properly and spending less cash for the same hardware would be more logical.

    Meh , Most Android Apps force you to grant access to all Phone hardware .. IOS forces the devs to allow the user check each hardware one by one.

    I have used the same App on both , in IOS I can disable many things for Apple Forces devs to do so , in Android , the same App on android has full access . Google Allows that while Apple does not
    Reply