Ahead of its upcoming launch for iOS 14, Apple has updated the App Store guidelines. It will ostensibly allow for game streaming services to function, but closer inspection indicates that it’s not really making any substantive shift towards the sort of functionality gamers expect.
The new rules read as follows: “You may offer a single subscription that is shared across your own apps and services. Games offered in a streaming game service subscription must be downloaded directly from the App Store, must be designed to avoid duplicate payment by a subscriber, and should not disadvantage non-subscriber customers.”
From a practical perspective, these rules do not advance game streaming functionality on Apple devices at all. It still requires stream services to force their subscribers to go to the App Store (which necessitates having an Apple iOS account) and download each game in the library individually. Moreover, each game in the service provider’s library has to be vetted through the App Store. These rules make Microsoft’s Project xCloud and Google’s Stadia streaming services just as unable to function as they were before. Still, there’s at least no longer any mystery why their apps will be rejected should they choose to resubmit them again.
Food For Thought
At the very least, these rules clarify Apple’s position on streaming, though it seems to indicate the inherent ridiculousness of that position. Insisting on each game being available on the App Store to download is probably the single biggest sticking point, one which is the most difficult to justify, and one which makes the least amount of sense.
For reasons known only to Apple, they seem unwilling to let iPhones and iPads act as terminals through which other programs may function. If this is the hill they plan to die on, then there is no shortage of people who will cheerfully help them fulfill that desire, despite what it will do to any other desires Apple may have.