Game streaming is now allowed for iPhones, with big caveats

Google Stadia Controller on the table

  • Apple has introduced new App Store rules that allow game streaming services, but with major problems.
  • Each game must be present in the store and use Apple’s in-app purchase system.
  • Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud may work, but with complications.

Apple has relaxed the App Store policies that have banned game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud (in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate), although you might not want to expect them to appear on your iPhone or iPad just yet.

TechCrunch reports that Apple has updated its app rules to explicitly allow streaming of games, but only under strict conditions. Above all, every game must be listed in the App Store and use Apple’s in-app purchase system to “unlock features or functions”. There may be a catalog app that allows users to log in and create links to many games. However, there must be options to use the Apple subscription system and sign in to Apple.

Apple positions its game streaming rules as helpful to users. You can find individual games, read reviews, and manage them using parental controls. The company suggests that vendors who don’t want to use the App Store can use a web browser instead.

Continue reading: Sorry Stadia, I support xCloud

As you may have guessed, services like Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud find it difficult to work on iPhones and iPads. They’re technically feasible, but every game would require an App Store list and Apple payment hooks for paid content. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate offers over 100 games. Microsoft may need to create shell apps for each of these titles. This excludes Apple’s 30% cut in subscriptions (15% after the first year) and in-app purchases, which could lead to higher prices for those who sign up in the app.

This could complicate matters for users as well. The catalog app should refer you to individual app store entries. When looking for a game, you may find multiple listings if competing services have the same titles. You would also need to manage the icons for each game on your device. This can be painful when you’re playing more than a handful of games.

This makes streaming games on Apple products significantly more complicated than on Android and other platforms

It’s not clear whether Google or Microsoft will bring Stadia and xCloud to iPhones and iPads under the new rules. Google declined to comment CNBC.

The move isn’t entirely surprising. Apple has a different stance on gaming than passive media like music and movies, and has long seen the App Store as a way to create the ideal user experience (and of course, generate revenue). However, this makes streaming games on Apple products significantly more complicated than on Android and other platforms. You can’t just use one app to access your entire catalog.

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