Apple Updates App Store Review Guidelines to Allow Streaming Game Services That Submit Each Game to the App Store [Updated]

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Apple today announced updates to its App Store Review Guidelines to take into account some new features that are coming in iOS 14, such as App Clips, while also introducing new rules surrounding streaming game services and in-app purchases.


According to Apple's updated guidelines, streaming game services like Microsoft's xCloud are allowed, but all of the games included in a streaming game subscription service need to be downloaded directly from the App Store.

Apple has clashed with Microsoft over streaming gaming services in recent weeks, with Apple preventing xCloud, Microsoft's latest gaming service, from being released in the App Store because Apple has no oversight when it comes to the games included in the service. It's not clear if Microsoft will want to upload all xCloud games to the App Store separately, but that appears to be an option for getting xCloud onto iOS.
Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines -- for example, each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.

Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, has user ratings and review, can be managed with Screen Time and other parental control apps, appears on the user's device, etc.
Streaming game services are, however, allowed to offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and to find the games that have been uploaded to the App Store, so long as the app adheres to all of Apple's guidelines. Apps must provide users with an option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple. All games must link to an individual App Store product page.

Other rules state that apps classified as "Reader apps" such as Netflix can offer account creation for free tiers and are able to provide account management functionality for existing customers while not offering payment options.

Relating to Fortnite, a new App Store clarification says that apps are not allowed to include hidden, dormant, or undocumented features in apps, with all app functionality clear to end users and Apple's App Review team. Epic Games snuck a direct payment option into Fortnite that Apple did not approve, which led to the whole legal battle between Apple and Epic.

All new features, functionality, and product changes are required to be described with specificity in the Notes for Review section when developers are submitting updates, and Apple says that generic descriptions will be rejected.

Apps that offer purchase options for realtime person-to-person experiences between two individuals (such as tutoring) can now use purchase methods other than in-app purchase to collect payments. One-to-a-few and one-to-many experiences that involve more than two people have to use Apple's in-app purchase system. There has been controversy over in-app purchases for services that have been forced to go digital due to the ongoing health crisis, with apps like ClassPass complaining about Apple's purchase requirements. Apple's new rule will allow one-to-one classes to skirt in-app purchases with direct payment options, but that won't work for multi-person classes.

Free standalone apps that are companions to paid web-based tools do not need to use Apple's in-app purchase system so long as there is no purchasing inside the app or calls to action for purchasing outside of the app, which appears to be a new rule related to the snafu over the WordPress app.

Apps can't require users to rate the app, review the app, watch videos, download other apps, tap on advertisements, enable tracking, or take other similar actions to access functionality, content, use the app, or receive monetary compensation.

App Clips, widgets, extensions, and notifications must be related to the functionality of an app, and Apple says that App Clips are not allowed to contain advertising. Widgets, notifications, keyboards, and watchOS apps are also not allowed to include advertising.

Apple's full list of App Store Guideline changes can be found on the Apple Developer site and through the complete App Store Guidelines.

Update: In a statement to CNET, Microsoft said that Apple's new guidelines don't offer an ideal experience for customers. From Microsoft: "This remains a bad experience for customers. Gamers want to jump directly into a game from their curated catalog within one app just like they do with movies or songs, and not be forced to download over 100 apps to play individual games from the cloud. We're committed to putting gamers at the center of everything we do, and providing a great experience is core to that mission."



Article Link: Apple Updates App Store Review Guidelines to Allow Streaming Game Services That Submit Each Game to the App Store [Updated]
 
Last edited:

collin_

macrumors regular
Nov 19, 2018
110
131
If the games need to be downloaded directly from the App Store as individual apps, then this could hardly be considered a policy change allowing game streaming services. It's better than before, but I have a feeling that developers are (justifiably) not going to be too thrilled.
 

Lounge vibes 05

macrumors 6502a
May 30, 2016
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So Apple might be willing to adjust its App Store policies to be more reasonable if I work with them instead of breaching contract and then making a huge circus out of a lawsuit???

Never would have guessed...
Exactly.
Apple has actually been a lot more reasonable lately than they used to be, and I like it.
I mean, obviously I know that they have to be, with all the anti-trust investigations and such, it would be kind of stupid for them to go out of their way to make things difficult for developers. But they still won’t make epic happy.
And at this point, the angrier epic gets, the happier that I get because I hate them as a company.
 

Madmic23

macrumors 6502a
Apr 21, 2004
716
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This doesn't really make sense, and it sounds like they want to appear like they're working with companies when they really aren't. With this rule, Microsoft basically has to make a version of their XCloud app that can only stream one game, and then they'll have to duplicate 100+ times for every other game. That's dumb. Can you imagine if Netflix had to create a different app for every show or movie?
 

Appleman3546

macrumors regular
May 13, 2019
223
428
Couldn’t Xbox game pass release a browser that is Bluetooth capable to connect a controller? This would allow Xbox game pass website to say only those using the Xbox browser can access this service while not actually linking to Xbox game service or game (aka just a general browser with Bluetooth)
 

Lounge vibes 05

macrumors 6502a
May 30, 2016
593
1,726
If the games need to be downloaded directly from the App Store as individual apps, then this could hardly be considered a policy change allowing game streaming services. It's better than before, but I have a feeling that developers are (justifiably) not going to be too thrilled.
Explain?
If I’m understanding this correctly, a company like Microsoft can make a XCloud app, that lists everything available in that service.
If you tap on something to download it, it opens an App Store page where you can download. To me, it just makes the type of sense that Apple likes, and it’s enough of a compromise to make companies like Microsoft and Google happy. Not epic though, they will still rage all day
 

CalMin

macrumors 6502a
Nov 8, 2007
713
289
Wait what...? "Streaming games" must be downloaded directly from the App Store? :D
If the games need to be downloaded directly from the App Store as individual apps, then this could hardly be considered a policy change allowing game streaming services. It's better than before, but I have a feeling that developers are (justifiably) not going to be too thrilled.
I don't think they have to be downloaded. They would, however, have to be submitted for approval before they can go live.

pretty sure people are going to try xcloud on their iphones for 2 weeks then stop because it isn’t that great of an experience
Probably true today, but this is only going to get better with time. I tried Google Stadia for a couple of months and was generally impressed. It works better with some games than others, but when bandwith and response times catch up with the tech, I can see a lot of potential with game streaming.
 

farewelwilliams

macrumors 68040
Jun 18, 2014
3,210
13,200
Probably true today, but this is only going to get better with time. I tried Google Stadia for a couple of months and was generally impressed. It works better with some games than others, but when bandwith and response times catch up with the tech, I can see a lot of potential with game streaming.
i thought the same thing back in 2012 when i tried onlive
 
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revanmj

macrumors member
Jun 2, 2010
58
51
Poland
Nobody is going to submit 100+ of streaming clients locked to single game, so this change doesn't really makes things any better.

I think it's just for PR, so they can say that they don't straight out ban game streaming, but those evil developers don't want to adhere to App Store rules.
 

collin_

macrumors regular
Nov 19, 2018
110
131
Explain?
If I’m understanding this correctly, a company like Microsoft can make a XCloud app, that lists everything available in that service.
If you tap on something to download it, it opens an App Store page where you can download. To me, it just makes the type of sense that Apple likes, and it’s enough of a compromise to make companies like Microsoft and Google happy. Not epic though, they will still rage all day
I can't fully judge this yet because I haven't seen how it works, but it sounds like the games will look and behave like individual apps, as in have their own icons on the home page and whatnot. It doesn't sound like Apple is truly opening the door for game streaming services, just shell apps that direct you to other apps.
 

Lounge vibes 05

macrumors 6502a
May 30, 2016
593
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This doesn't really make sense, and it sounds like they want to appear like they're working with companies when they really aren't. With this rule, Microsoft basically has to make a version of their XCloud app that can only stream one game, and then they'll have to duplicate 100+ times for every other game. That's dumb. Can you imagine if Netflix had to create a different app for every show or movie?
Not exactly. Basically, there would be a XCloud app that acts like a portal to all the other apps. When you go to download one, it uses the App Store to complete the download process. Then it links to the XCloud subscription service. So you can either leave them as icons on your home screen, or just have the XCloud app as a launcher For XCloud titles
 

jlocker

macrumors 6502a
Jun 20, 2011
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Lake Michigan
Apple has good relationship with Microsoft. With the new Xbox X, and Xbox games on PC it is smart of Apple to let xCloud service to work on iPhone and iPads. This give more ammunition against Sony and the PS5 system.
 
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Lounge vibes 05

macrumors 6502a
May 30, 2016
593
1,726
I can't fully judge this yet because I haven't seen how it works, but it sounds like the games will look and behave like individual apps, as in have their own icons on the home page and whatnot. It doesn't sound like Apple is truly opening the door for game streaming services, just shell apps that direct you to other apps.
Yes, but with iOS 14, you don’t need to have them on your home screen. You can have them play in the app library, then use the XCloud app as basically a launcher for all of these games
 

Stuey3D

macrumors 6502a
Jul 8, 2014
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Northamptonshire, United Kingdom
The only way I see this working for Xcloud which is free for GamePass ultimate subscribers is to basically have an Xcloud wrapper for each game which you can then sign in with your Microsoft account and then once verified you can play as normal.

It seems like a very messy way to do things, but I guess better than nothing.

That means users could potentially have a bunch of tiny little apps for each game they play, imagine a folder with over 100 game icons in it. Gonna really mess with people who prefer the minimal approach to their phones.
 

corduroygt

macrumors 6502
May 29, 2005
252
118
New York, NY
This is total BS, how is game streaming any different than Netflix? Does Apple require Netflix to submit each movie/show separately, of course not.

Apple seems adamant in not wanting anyone to play games on their devices that are not in the App store. Which is fine, when you buy Apple, you know you will never get a good gaming experience anyway so there's nothing new there. I use Apple for all my non gaming needs, and use a proper PC/consoles for gaming. It's a shame there is no alternative to the Nintendo Switch for portable gaming though.
 
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