Apple goes to war with the gaming industry – ProWellTech

Apple goes to war with the gaming industry – ProWellTech

Most gamers may not see Apple as a gaming company to the same extent that they see Sony with PlayStation or Microsoft with Xbox, but the iPhone maker continues to evenly lead the industry with decisions made in Apple’s App Store.

The company made headlines a couple of times later this week for App Store approval. Once for denying a game app and once for approving one.

The denial was from Microsoft Xcloud gaming apps, something the Xbox guys weren’t too keen on. Microsoft xCloud is one of Xbox’s leading software platforms that has been playing for some time now, allowing gamers to stream titles from the cloud and play console-quality games across multiple devices. It’s a huge effort that has been in preview for a while, but will likely officially launch next month. The app had been in a preview of Testflight for iOS, but as Microsoft was looking to bring it into prime time, Apple said it’s not that fast.

The app that got approved was the Facebook gaming app that Facebook has been trying to push through the App Store for months to no avail. It was finally approved on Friday after the company stripped one of its two core features, a library of playable mobile games. In a brief statement to the New York Times, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said, “Unfortunately, we had to completely remove the gaming functionality to get Apple’s approval of the standalone Facebook gaming app.”

Microsoft’s Xbox team also took the unusually aggressive step of calling Apple in a statement that reads, in part, “Apple is the only all-purpose platform to deny consumers cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox. Game Pass. And it constantly treats game apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-game apps even when they include interactive content. “

Microsoft is still a $ 1.61 trillion company, so don’t think it’s eliminating the fiddle for them, but iOS is the world’s largest gaming platform, something CEO Tim Cook proudly proclaimed when the company launched its own game subscription platform, Apple Arcade, last year. Apple likes to play at their own pace, and all of these game streaming platforms popping up simultaneously seem ready to overwhelm them.

Image Credits: Microsoft

There are some things about cloud gaming apps that seem to run counter to some of the App Store rules, but these rules are, of course, just guidelines written by Apple. On Apple’s part, they basically said (full statement later) that the App Store had curators for a reason and that approving apps like these means they can’t individually review apps that compromise the App Store experience.

To say this is “the reason” seems false because the company has long since had approved platforms to operate on the App Store without approving the individual content that can be accessed. With “Games” being the most popular category in the App Store, Apple probably cares a lot more about keeping its money in order.

CNBC’s analysis set Apple’s 2019 App Store total revenue at $ 50 billion.

When these cloud gaming platforms like xCloud scale with zero iOS support, millions of Apple customers, myself included, will be really pissed that their iPhone can’t do something their friend’s phone can do. Playing console-class titles on the iPhone would be a substantial feature upgrade for consumers. There are about 90 million Xbox Live users out there, a considerable number of which are iPhone owners I guess. The gaming industry is constantly mobilizing around gaming subscription networks and cloud gaming as a move to encourage consumers to try more titles and discover more indie hits.

I’ve seen enough of these sagas to realize that sometimes the parties kick off these struggles purely as a tactic to get their way into negotiations and avoid workarounds, but it’s a tactic that only really works when consumers have a reason to care. . Most of the big App Store developer jokes played in the background and come to light later, but at this point the Xbox team no doubt sees that Apple isn’t positioned so well to wage an App Store war in the middle of a increased antitrust attention for a lawsuit that seems entirely focused on maintaining the edge in monetizing the games consumers play on Apple screens.

CEO Tim Cook spent a lot of time in his Congress Zoom room answering questions about perceived anticompetitiveness in the company’s application store.

The big point of tension that I could see happening behind closed doors is that many of these titles offer in-game transactions and just because that in-app purchase framework is live streamed from a cloud computer doesn’t mean a user doesn’t. be. You’re still using experiencing that content on an Apple device. I’m not sure if that’s actually the point of contention, but it looks like it would be a major threat to Apple’s ecosystem-wide in-app purchase roundup.

The App Store currently does not support cloud gaming on Nvidia’s GeForce platform or Google’s Stadia, both of which are also available on Android mobile phones. Both of these platforms have a more limited reach than Microsoft’s offering, which is expected to launch with wider support and gain wider adoption.

While I can understand Apple’s desire not to have game titles that may not work properly on an iPhone due to system constraints, this argument doesn’t apply so well to the world of cloud gaming where apps translate button presses. on the cloud and the cloud is sending them the next frames rendered by their game engine. Apple is forced to get pretty specific about what kinds of multimedia apps fall under the designation of “player”. The inherent interactivity of a cloud gaming platform appears to be the differentiation Apple is pushing here, as well as interfaces that allow players to directly launch titles with a much more specialized interface than some generic remote desktop apps.

All of these platforms come after the company has already launched Apple Arcade, a non-cloud gaming product built in the image of what Apple would like to think are the values ​​it promotes in the world of games: independent family titles with no intrusive ads, no micro- annoying transactions and Apple’s careful review.

The position of Apple’s driver’s seat in the gaming world has been far from an entirely positive influence on the industry. Apple has acted as gatekeeper, but the fact is that many of the “innovations” introduced thanks to App Store policies have been great for Apple but questionable for developing a player-friendly gaming industry.

Apple has facilitated the advent of free-to-play games by pushing in-app purchases that have been recklessly abused over the years as studios have been irresistibly pushed to structure their titles around the principles of addiction. Mobile gaming has been one of the craziest areas of Wild West startup growth over the past decade and Apple’s mechanics for fueling fast transactions within these titles has moved fast and broke things.

Check out the top 200 games in the App Store (data via Sensor Tower) and you’ll see that all 199 rely solely on in-app micro-transactions to achieve that status: Microsoft’s Minecraft, ranked 50th, costs $ 6.99 to download, though it also offers in-app purchases.

In 2013, the company settled a class action lawsuit that began after parents sued Apple for making it too easy for kids to make in-app purchases. In 2014, Apple settled a case with the FTC on the same mechanism for $ 32 million. This year, a lawsuit filed against Apple questioned the legality of “loot box” in-app purchases that awarded players random digital prizes.

“Through the games it sells and offers free to consumers through its AppStore, Apple engages in predatory practices that induce consumers, including children, to gamble and similar addictive behavior in violation of this and other designed laws. to protect consumers and to prohibit such practices, “Read the latest legal action.

This, of course, isn’t Apple’s way of seeing its role in the gaming industry. In a statement to Business Insider in response to the company’s denial of Microsoft’s xCloud, Apple presented its messages.

The App Store was created to be a safe and reliable place for customers to discover and download apps and a great business opportunity for all developers. Before entering our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and equal playing field for developers.

Our customers enjoy amazing apps and games from millions of developers, and game services can absolutely be launched on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines that apply to all developers, including submitting games individually for review and visualization in graphs and research. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users on the web via Safari and other browsers on the App Store.

The impact, of course, wasn’t uniformly negative, but Apple played fast and free with industry changes as they benefited from the mothership. I’m not going to act like a lot of Sony and Microsoft’s stock over the years hasn’t offered similar tackles to gamers, but Apple wields industry dominance it owns, running the world’s largest gaming platform, far too often and gamers should be cautious about trusting the owner of the game. App Store to make decisions that have their best interests at heart.

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