Apple’s Policies Block iOS Game Streaming from the Cloud

A new report from Bloomberg has revealed the troubles companies will face when releasing game streaming services on iOS.


A new report from Bloomberg has revealed the troubles companies will face when releasing game streaming services on iOS. Cloud game streaming has gained new interest ever since Google announced their Stadia game streaming service that promised to revolutionize gaming by putting all the processing in the cloud. Since then, competition from Microsoft with their Project xCloud platform and Nvidia with their GeforceNow service has promised to make the technology a vibrant market with plenty of competition.

Although the services have had success bringing the technology to Android, on iOS it has been notably absent. The new report reveals why.

“Apple imposes strict limits on the kinds of apps users can access on its devices. For example, App Store guidelines ban services that rely on streaming from the cloud.”

For those familiar with iOS gaming, this situation might sound similar to the one that delayed Valve’s Steam Link app from releasing on iOS for months while the android version was released without issue. The problem there was the Steam Link app’s ability to allow users to purchase games on Steam. Once Valve removed this ability from the iOS version, the app was approved. But Bloomberg says the issue with cloud streaming is much bigger. The report claims that Steam Link falls under the “remote desktop” category of apps, which Apple’s guidelines allow. Cloud steaming, it says, is different.

Interestingly, cloud steaming doesn’t need a marketplace like Steam to function. It works like Netflix or Hulu (apps Apple has approved on the App Store). A monthly subscription grants gamers access to a library of games available for streaming. Apple’s problem isn’t with the business model, instead it is with the technology itself, “Apple’s rules state that ‘thin clients for cloud-based apps are not appropriate for the App Store.'”

This hasn’t stopped companies like Microsoft from creating beta versions of cloud steaming apps for iOS. The iOS beta version of Microsoft’s xCloud app has been available to those in the beta program for some time. But Bloomberg says when Microsoft goes to release the app it “would probably be rejected”.

After seeing the moves Apple has made in recent years to help boost gaming on iOS, it’s hard not to be disappointed in this news. With the rise of 5G and the proliferation of unlimited data plans, game streaming on mobile will be a great way to experience graphically intensive games without the hardware required to traditionally play them. Apple could change these policies once game streaming really takes off, but then Apple will be back to playing catchup when it comes to gaming on iOS.

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