Over the past year Google, Microsoft, NVIDIA, and Facebook all launched game streaming services that promise to let you play console-quality games on internet-connected devices such as phones, tablets, low-power computers, or smart TVs.
And so far Apple has refused to let you use any of those services on an iPhone or iPad.
Now Apple has updated its App Store guidelines to open a door for game streaming services like Stadia, Xbox Cloud Gaming, or GeForce Now. But developers will have to jump through some hoops to get into the App Store.
Here’s the deal: developers can bring game streaming services to the App Store. But each individual game will need its own App Store listing.
Each game must be submitted to Apple for review. Each must comply with apple’s guidelines. and each approved game will have its own listing in the App Store.
Apple notes that developers can still offer “catalog” apps. So Google, for example, could release a Stadia app for iOS, and users cold browse a listing of available games using that app. But Google and/or game publishers who support Stadia will have to submit each of the 100+ games available for the platform to Apple for review. And when it comes time to actually stream a game, you’ll be downloading a stub for that game from the App store.
Honestly, I’m not sure that game streaming platforms are going to want to jump through these kinds of hoops.
Update: Microsfot is unimpressed, telling The Verge that “this remains a bad experience for customers.” It’s unclear if that means Microsoft won’t at least attempt to bring Xbox Cloud Gaming to iOS or not though.
Game Streaming “support” isn’t the only change in the latest App Store review guidelines. Apple is also:
- Allowing apps that offer one-on-one experiences (like personal tutoring) arrange payment without using App Store billing. “One-to-few and one-to-many realtime experiences” still have to use in-app purchases.
- “Free apps acting as a stand-alone companion to paid web based tools” such as email, VOIP, cloud storage, or web hosting, do not have to use in-app purchasing for payments, assuming there’s no way to actually make purchases through the app.
That second change resolves an issue that had affected some high profile app developers earlier this year.