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App Store Guidelines for Game Stream Apps Leads to Lawsuits

Apple’s App Store policy has dragged ire over its rules for cloud gaming apps, resulting in a new lawsuit. This new lawsuit accuses the company of monopolizing the mobile gaming market by keeping competitors out of iOS devices, thus enabling the company to charge higher prices for reduced options. What are the details behind these guidelines, who is suing and can it affect the market for mobile apps?

App Store Guidelines

In August, Apple announced that the App Store policy does not allow developers outside of Apple to publish cloud games apps.

Apple explained that the policy has established a requirement that all apps must be reviewed before they are allowed in the App Store. Due to the wide range of games available via sky-streaming apps, it will not be possible to review them all, and the app will therefore not be allowed.

Following withdrawal from both developers and consumers, the review guidelines were later updated with new rules for online gaming apps. The updated policy added a section stating that games offered in a streaming subscription must be downloaded directly from the App Store.

This means that developers can make their games available, but they must be submitted as individual apps, complete with an App Store listing. The streaming services may offer a directory app, but the apps must be downloaded individually.

While this is similar to how Apple Arcade works, it is different from most cloud gaming platforms, which offer the games directly. The App Store Guidelines also have a rule that apps cannot be a “thin client for a cloud-based app,”

; (App Store Review Policy, Section 4.2.7), which disqualifies most cloud gaming apps.

In principle, the guidelines will allow the games to be broadcast individually, but the streaming app itself can not be more than a directory that leads users to the games. This will be instead of a streaming service they can access the games from in accordance with Apple’s guidelines.

The lawsuit

While Apple has been the subject of complaints and lawsuits from industry giants such as Epic and Spotify, this new lawsuit comes from users. According to Bloomberg, the lawsuit is a class action lawsuit filed by Apple Arcade user John Pistacchio of New Jersey. The lawsuit claims:

“By illegally excluding competition, Apple has eliminated consumer choice, hampered innovation and reduced service quality.”

The suit also claims that since Apple prevents other game stores from being available on iOS devices, players will have to pay higher prices for a less robust game selection. This is in line with the latest House antitrust report, which states:

“Apple’s gaming service, Apple Arcade, is a type of app that was” consistently allowed from the store “when offered by third-party developers, but Apple allowed its own in-store app, even if it violated existing guidelines. ‘”

Impact on the market for mobile apps

Apple is facing several legal battles, including antitrust hearings and a lawsuit with Epic. The results of these can shape the App Store policy going forward. If Apple loses this new lawsuit, it may be necessary to open the App Store for more gaming services, including Microsoft xCloud and Google Stadiums. This will give game developers new opportunities to reach users on iOS devices.

Apple recently added a policy that allows developers to challenge review guidelines. However, it is unlikely that Apple will adjust its attitude towards online gaming apps based on this alone.

If a game is offered on its own in the App Store, as Apple currently allows, it must compete for keyword rankings and installations with a properly optimized store page. Regardless of the outcome of the lawsuit, developers will still need to ensure that App Store listings are optimized.

Cloud gaming apps must also be optimized if they are allowed in the store, since each app will be a standalone and the volume of them will create fierce competition for the users. The apps that can showcase the most compelling features and games will be the ones that stand out from the competition. App Store optimization is always important.

Want to learn more about App Store Optimization? Contact Gummicube and we help you get your strategy started.

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