Facebook denounces Apple’s App Store policy and launches Facebook Gaming on iOS without games.
Facebook today condemns Microsoft for condemning Apple’s App Store policies. The social media company launches its Facebook Gaming app for iOS – primarily an app used to watch streamers play video games – but has had to remove the app’s mini-games feature to follow App Store’s strict approval process in Apple. Facebook is not happy with the compromise.
“Unfortunately, we had to completely remove gameplay functionality to get Apple’s approval for the standalone Facebook Gaming app, which means iOS users have a lesser experience than those using Android,” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer in a press release The edge. “We remain focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month – whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”
Facebook says it’s the Facebook Gaming app Apple has turned down several times in recent months. The company says that Apple has quoted App Store Guideline 4.7 to justify the rejections the primary purpose of the Facebook Gaming app is claiming to play games. Facebook says it shared user data from its Android Facebook Gaming app that showed 95% of activity views streams, but this didn’t change Apple’s attitude.
Apple unveiled an appeals process for such situations at WWDC in June, but Facebook says it has attempted this and failed to convince Apple to reverse its decision. “We even objected to the directive as part of the new app review process announced at WWDC,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “We have not received a response.”
Facebook is now forced to completely relinquish and remove games from the standalone app launched on iOS today. The Facebook Gaming app is primarily used to watch game streams, much like Twitch is used on both iOS and Android. But on Android, the app also includes many mini-games from Facebook’s Instant Games platform. That’s what Apple doesn’t allow.
This is also not the first time Facebook has encountered problems with the App Store. “Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we’ve been forced to bury Instant Games on iOS for years,” Vivek Sharma, chief of Facebook Gaming, explained in a statement to The edge. “This is shared pain in the game industry, which ultimately harms players and developers and seriously hinders innovation on mobile for other formats, such as cloud gaming.”
Apple is increasingly criticized by rivals and the game industry for reducing the limitations of the App Store. Microsoft was forced to drop its xCloud iOS tests earlier this week after the App Store policies prevented the company from launching the app for months. Microsoft made the unusual decision yesterday to condemn Apple, saying, “Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform that denies consumers access to cloud gaming and game subscription services such as Xbox Game Pass.”
Apple has defended its decision to block cloud game services such as xCloud, Stadia, and GeForce Now from the App Store. “Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and game services are launchable on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines that apply to all developers, including submitting games for review separately and appearing in charts and search, “an Apple spokesman said in a statement yesterday.
Apple argues is that the company cannot individually rate games offered on streaming services, but the company doesn’t seem to have the same issues with services like Netflix or YouTube streaming millions of videos, TV shows, and movies to Apple’s iOS devices. Apple cannot judge.
Apple’s latest weak excuse on the App Store comes just months after the company engaged in a bitter battle for the new Hey email app. Apple eventually approved the app after the initial rejection was widely condemned by legislators and developers. Apple is part of many United States technology companies that are currently facing potential antitrust action. The EU has also opened a formal antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay practices. With Microsoft and Facebook openly criticizing Apple, the company will receive further questions about the App Store policy in the coming months.