Apple has issued revised App Store guidelines that pave the way for game streaming services such as Google Stadia, Microsoft’s xCloud and NVIDIA’s GeForce Now to run on iOS devices. But there’s a catch: you’ll need to download each game individually from the App Store.
“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,” the updated rules read (via CNBC).
“Streaming game services may offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find the games on the App Store, provided that the app adheres to all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple,” the company said in another section of its guidelines. “All the games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.”
Apple has come under fire over its App Store practices lately on a number of fronts, particularly from game publishers. Epic Games, of course, is embroiled in a legal battle with the company over the 30 percent cut Apple takes from in-app payments. Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store soon after that fight flared up.
Microsoft and Facebook (both of whom have expressed support for Epic) have hit out at Apple's rules too. They said that the guidelines limited their gaming apps on iPhones and iPads. The xCloud and GeForce Now apps aren’t available for iOS devices at all, while you can't play games through the Stadia or Facebook Gaming apps as things stand.
Last month, Apple said that it had to limit game streaming services because it said it would have to review and approve each title individually — rules that don’t apply to non-interactive streaming services like Netflix and Spotify. Having each game as an individual app means it’ll show up in “charts and search, has user ratings and review [and] can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control apps.”
Having to download each Stadia or xCloud game (or possibly an app that connects to a cloud server with the full game) that you want to play kind of defeats the core purpose of game streaming. Still, at least it’ll be possible for you to play them on iOS devices from now on.
This move will give game streaming services a degree of parity with Apple’s own game subscription service, Apple Arcade. You need to download games individually with that too.
Elsewhere in the updated App Store guidelines, Apple made some changes that apply to in-person classes that are purchased through an app. One-on-one virtual sessions don't need to go through Apple's payment process, but those that have an instructor teaching multiple people will.