Apple's App Store rules are stifling Arcade competition

Apple Arcade on iPhone XS Max
Apple Arcade on iPhone XS Max (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • A Bloomberg report has revealed how Apple's App Store rules are crushing cloud gaming services.
  • Strict bans on services that rely on cloud streaming are holding back NVIDIA, Microsoft and Google's new services.
  • Many developers are frustrated at Apple's "arbitrary rules".

A Bloomberg report has revealed how Apple's strict App Store guidelines are preventing cloud gaming services from companies like Microsoft, NVIDIA and Google from putting their services on the platform.

According to the report:

Video-game fans suddenly have their pick of a huge menu of titles thanks to a raft of new mobile subscription services from Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp., Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Nvidia Corp. But for the more than 1 billion users of Apple's iPhone and iPad, the only real option is Arcade, the subscription service launched by the company in September. That's because 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. Arcade adheres to the requirements, in part, because it's included as a feature within the App Store itself. This is the latest example of what critics say are arbitrary rules favoring Apple's own apps at the expense of similar software from outside developers.

One developer, David Barnard, said that there was a "fraught" relationship between Apple and developers. He stated that whilst he was "incredibly grateful" to the App Store marketplace, Apple's policies were "heavy-handed at times".

The report notes how new game streaming services from Microsoft, NVIDIA and Google are all unable to join the App Store because they are cloud streaming-based. Apple Arcade, on the other hand, adheres to the requirements. The report does note that Apple's policies were in force before all of these new gaming services launched, with one antitrust lawyer suggesting a change in the landscape was unlikely.

Apple has of course fallen foul of developer attention within the App Store previously. Developer Blix last month called on other iOS developers to rise up against Apple over the practice of sherlocking. That story includes accusations that Apple suppressed Blix's Bluemail app within the App Store.

Apple maintains that its App Store guidelines are "intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers". You can read the full report here.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9