Apple has updated its App Store Review Policy to add specific rules about streaming games in the wake of disputes with Microsoft and Epic:
Streaming games are allowed as long as they adhere to all guidelines – for example, every game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate search metadata, games must use in-app purchases to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, it always is open Internet and browser apps to reach all users outside the App Store.
Furthermore, sub-clauses require that each game must be listed in the App Store as an individual app, and directory apps that allow users to sign up for a streaming service must adhere to other guidelines, including subscription via in-app purchases and use Sign in with Apple.
In my opinion, this is still a short-term and ill-considered decision on Apple’s part. Game streaming services do not disappear, and if iOS is the only platform they are not available on, it honestly only hurts iOS. Apple has clearly stated that they do not care about losing these customers – that it is an acceptable trade-off not to lose revenue and control over the contents of the App Store.
But as the company continues to be on fire for restrictive and potentially competitive behavior in the App Store, it certainly seems like there’s another log on fire for developers wondering if the App Store is really right for them. Apple may be able to win this battle on technical terms, but there is a high risk that it will lose in the long run.