Apple should be welcoming Arcade competition, not stifling them

Sayonara Wild Hearts and Apple Arcade with a DualShock 4 controller
Sayonara Wild Hearts and Apple Arcade with a DualShock 4 controller (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

In a report by Bloomberg, it has been discovered that Apple's strict App Store guidelines seem to be stifling the competition when it comes to cloud gaming services. That's because, of course, Apple wants Arcade to be the star of the show on the App Store when it comes to these gaming subscriptions. While it's an understandable position from a business perspective, it's a bit hostile for both developers and consumers.

For those of us who are invested in the Apple ecosystem, it's basically a walled garden, and it has been since the very beginning. If you want to play games on your iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, or Mac, you need to check what the App Store is currently offering, which is the first place that most people will go.

But due to the strict guidelines of the App Store, you'll only find the Apple Arcade service being promoted, and any other premium one-time-purchase titles or free downloads. You'll never really see that Microsoft, Google, Nvidia, and others, even GameClub, exist at all. The only way Apple users will know of these other services is if they heard about them by word of mouth or have done their own research. You simply won't find competing services promoted on the front page of the App Store, and that's a real shame.

I understand it from Apple's perspective though — they own the App Store, they have an entire section set aside for Apple Arcade (whether you like it or not, you can't get rid of it), and they will always prioritize their own services first (Apple Music, Apple TV+, iCloud, etc.) But this feels fairly hostile towards both developers and consumers.

Honestly, I wish Apple would loosen up on their strict guidelines because competition is healthy. When there are competing services that are getting equal spotlight time, one can learn from the other, and all of these services can grow and improve. It would also improve the relationship between Apple and its own developers, who often feel that these restrictions are too much at times, especially when their ideas and products get "Sherlocked" by Apple themselves.

Apple claims that these strict guidelines for the App Store are "intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers." But really, it is the exact opposite.

The guidelines aren't new — they've been around for a long time now, since the App Store was first introduced. But the original intent of these guidelines was to protect us from scams and end-runs on the App Store. There was also a time when Apple didn't want apps that duplicated existing functionality on the iPhone. But the times have changed, and we are in the age of cloud gaming services and game streaming. Apple used to innovate, but its falling a bit behind with the times with such rules.

Christine Chan

Christine Romero-Chan was formerly a Senior Editor for iMore. She has been writing about technology, specifically Apple, for over a decade at a variety of websites. She is currently part of the Digital Trends team, and has been using Apple’s smartphone since the original iPhone back in 2007. While her main speciality is the iPhone, she also covers Apple Watch, iPad, and Mac when needed. When she isn’t writing about Apple, Christine can often be found at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, as she is a passholder and obsessed with all things Disney, especially Star Wars. Christine also enjoys coffee, food, photography, mechanical keyboards, and spending as much time with her new daughter as possible.