What you need to know
- Facebook Gaming is finally coming to iOS.
- But there's a huge catch.
- Facebook has had to remove all games from the app in order to get it onto the App Store.
Facebook has finally confirmed that its Facebook Gaming app is coming to iOS this Friday, but it's only been possible because of a huge compromise. The app has been rejected half a dozen times by Apple due to guidelines which state prevent gaming apps distributing games on the App Store.
The company confirmed the move to iMore today after months of back and forth with Apple over the issue.
So how has Facebook got around the App Store rules? By entirely removing playable games from the app. According to Facebook, users will still be able to watch and create live streams, as well as interact with communities. In a statement, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said:
"Gaming brings people together. And that's even more important today amidst the pandemic. Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple's approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app – meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android. We're staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month – whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not."
She further commented that Facebook would keep building communities for people who play games on Facebook "whether Apple allows it in a stand-alone app or not."
According to The New York Times
Apple, without directly addressing Facebook Gaming, said its App Store policies were designed to protect consumers. It added that it had allowed other apps that included games into the App Store.
This is strange, because the past 24 hours have been dominated by reports of Apple's impasse with Microsoft over its xCloud gaming service, which Apple has explicitly said cannot be on the App Store because of current guidelines. From that report:
"The App Store was created to be a safe and trusted place for customers to discover and download apps, and a great business opportunity for all developers," an Apple representative reportedly stated. "Before they go on our store, all apps are reviewed against the same set of guidelines that are intended to protect customers and provide a fair and level playing field to developers."
"Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store."
Microsft blasted Apple's stance on the matter stating "Apple stands alone as the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass. And it consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content."
Facebook Gaming's compromise is yet another strange twist in the ongoing App Store saga and Apple's policy over gaming services on its iOS platform.