Apple laid out in clear terms why it has no plans to approve cloud gaming services from its tech rivals Google and Microsoft. The first escalation occurred when Apple kicked the massively popular battle royale hit Fortnite off the app store after its creator, Epic games, provoked the company with a rule-violating update.
Epic filed a 62-page legal complaint against Apple. Lawsuit argues that behavior also breaks the law. Epic argues that Apple is aggressively taxing and restricting developers.
Epic made clear in an unprecedented video mocking Apple’s iconic’1984′ Macintosh ad. The company is also suing Google on similar grounds, after Google removed Fortnite from its Play store.
It uses Apple’s original underdog persona in the personal computing industry of the 1980s. In the 1980s, Orwellian themes of state control cast Apple as the ultimate villain.
Apple is at risk of losing a generation of young, game-loving smartphone owners that might prefer platforms and services the iPhone maker has shown it has little control over. Either of Apple’s moves – yanking Fortnite or banning cloud gaming services – might make gamers skeptical about Apple’s control over the app store.
Apple has removed one of the most popular mobile games ever made from its store. Many players are growing up with no need for a gaming console or PC. Apple is explicitly and purposefully excluding cloud gaming platforms.
Apple’s ban on cloud gaming was not entirely unexpected, but it fell on skeptical ears. The company explained why Google stadia and Microsoft xCloud ca n’t exist on iOS.
Apple’s cloud gaming services must be submitted individually for inspection, subject to user reviews, and findable in search results. Games are n’t to be treated the same as music, movies, and TV shows, but rather as software that warrants careful inspection.
All apps peddling digital goods must pay Apple’s 30 percent fee. Cloud gaming apps offer access to many games that contain their own virtual marketplaces of digital goods.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has been a vocal critic of the app store in the past. He harbors a deep hatred for rent-seeking middlemen and marketplace restrictions. Last Thursday, he tweeted,’Apple has outlawed the metaverse’.
Epic updated the Fortnite app with its own in-app payment system. It also lowered prices for all in-app purchases when using that payment system by 20 percent. Because Apple removed the app, epic can now claim it has evidence of consumer harm.
Lawsuit claims Apple is committing antitrust violations. Android users can still download, update, and play Fortnite with no issue by using epic’s own third-party launcher.
Epic’s lawsuit does n’t seek monetary relief, but instead it wants the app store broken up. From Sweeney’s perspective, Apple is a threat to any game makers trying to build immersive entertainment and commerce platforms.
Sweeney said the fight with Apple was not about money, but about’the basic freedoms of all consumers and developers’. He also cast Apple as a company restricting the liberties of smartphone owners by restricting which apps they can install and how developers distribute that software.
The main opposing argument is:’smartphone markers can do whatever they want’. We need to fight to defend our rights against whoever would deny them.
Epic is waging war against Apple’s crystal-clear rules by defying Apple’s 30-percent cut. With cloud gaming, Apple’s app store rules are a little less clear-cut.
Tech blogger John Gruber did the work of decoding what Apple was saying in its cryptic cloud gaming statement. He believes Apple favors native apps over ones run remotely in the cloud.
Apple does n’t and ca n’t review every movie on Netflix or every song on Spotify. But if you think about it, they could review every game on Xbox game pass.’streaming video and music services are allowed in the app store; streaming software (games or otherwise) is not, unless it works over the web. Apple just does n’t want to say that’.
Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox game pass. A Microsoft spokesperson said the company consistently treats gaming apps differently.
Subscription services like Netflix and Spotify can pay just 15 percent instead of 30 percent after a customer has been signed up for longer than a year. Apple started letting Amazon sell movie and TV rentals without paying the cut at all.
Cloud gaming is beginning to upend the cloud gaming arrangement. The move could change the video game industry, similar to how streaming changed Hollywood’s film and television forever.
Apple’s reasoning behind requiring every game on iOS be submitted individually, instead of as part of a larger portal or subscription service, starts to wear thin. Why, does Netflix not have to get approval for every new show it puts live on its streaming video app.
Apple did n’t respond to repeated requests for comment on whether there is a specific app store guideline that says games must be submitted individually. But there does not appear to be any rule saying all games on iOS must be submit as individual apps.
Cloud gaming offers a different vision of game development and distribution than the one Apple offers. Instead, a cloud server far away and a monthly subscription service could deliver a Netflix-style buffet of all-you-can-play offerings.
Apple might not want to hammer out new app store arrangements for subscription gaming services, or review processes for evaluating every new title on a platform like Microsoft’s xCloud. It might simply not cede control of the user experience when an iPhone simply becomes a tiny wireless TV screen for games running on remote Windows or Linux PCs PCs PCs.
A cloud app is the ultimate version of a piece of software, living anywhere and accessible on any device. A game developer could easily publish the game on xCloud or cut a deal with Google and distribute it through stadia.
Starting September 15th, Android owners will be able to use Microsoft’s xCloud, Google stadia, NVIDIA’s GeForce now, and lesser-known services like parsec and vortex. On the iPhone, you wo n’t be allowed to access any of those platforms like parsec or vortex.
Critics, regulators, and developers are more concerned that Apple is exerting undue influence over the app makers on its platform. Apple has the added benefit of granting its own products access to iOS hardware and software privileges many third-party devs do not.
Apple now faces two antitrust investigations in the European Union. Companies like Spotify complained that Apple was competing on an uneven playing field by using its app store rules and iOS privileges to stifle its rivals.
Apple blocked Basecamp from updating its iOS app. Hey was a new kind of service that ran up against Apple’s inconsistent stewardship of the app store.
Facebook says it tried to appeal after it submitted its dedicated Facebook gaming mobile app to the app store but was denied because the app contained access to a platform that lets you play small flash-style mini games via a built-in web browser. Facebook claims the appeals process is the latest way Apple is unfairly treating gaming.
Facebook removed the ability to play games, and Apple then approved the app. When Facebook submitted its appeal, it says it heard nothing back.
‘this is shared pain across the games industry,’ says Facebook gaming chief Vivek Sharma.’it ultimately hurts players and devs and severely hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats, like cloud gaming’.
Last week, the EU said it was’aware’ of the cloud gaming ban. Antitrust investigators declined to comment on whether the decision would factor into its ongoing probe.
The app store owes much of its success to the growth and sustained popularity of gaming apps. On one end, this is shaping up to be a potential antitrust issue, especially if Apple ever builds its own cloud gaming app.
The iPhone in the lead as the go-to platform for monetizing this software. Activision Blizzard and China’s Tencent invested heavily in smaller studios.
Apple broke out as one of its major app categories in its mobile marketplace. Arcade, full of games Apple paid developers to create for its own platform. For a majority of the last decade, Apple treated gaming as a sideshow.
Fortnite maker epic attempted to bypass Google’s Play store by distributing the mobile version of the battle royale hit on its own. Epic did n’t dare try a similar method until this month’s in-app payment coup.
Apple launched its arcade subscription in September of last year. The service has grown to include more than 100 titles all available for download for one monthly fee of $ 4.99.
Apple offering money up front to cover development costs and then some. The financial arrangement and Apple’s strict exclusivity requirements pose risks to indie developers who ca n’t easily pivot their games to other platforms.
Microsoft is already an industry leader in subscription services with Xbox game pass. Every game Microsoft announced for its next Xbox game console last month will come to game pass as well.
Subscribers will be able to stream any of the game pass titles to their Android phone for no added cost. The move could make xCloud a formidable competitor to Google’s stadia and NVIDIA’s GeForce now.
This could kickstart cloud gaming in ways stadia, GeForce now, and lesser-known services like shadow never could could.