Apple has very strict app store policies that it credits as the reason that it is able to offer high-quality and safe experiences on iOS. Those policies, however, have also been criticized by developers are self-serving, inconsistent, and monopolistic, traits that Epic Games is using against the iPhone maker in its high-profile lawsuit. The game developer, however, isn’t the only big company that had problems with Apple’s App Store rules but, in an almost odd turn of events, Microsoft inadvertently got a competing game streaming app banned when it was making its case for Project xCloud on iOS.
Of Apple’s many App Store policies, the most notorious is perhaps the restriction on offering any kind of store within an app. That’s the reason why Amazon’s Kindle and Comixology apps don’t allow buying anything from within the app in contrast to the experience on Android. That policy, however, has become the bane of the new breed of game streaming services like Google Stadia and Microsoft Xbox Game Pass’ service, formerly known as Project xCloud.
Both companies as well as some third-party developers have tried to work around those limitations but Microsoft tried to also convince Apple to let xCloud into the App Store. In email exchanges last year between the two companies that were revealed as part of the Epic Games vs. Apple lawsuit, Microsoft argued that apps like Netflix and Shadow did exist in the App Store. The latter was also a cloud gaming service that suddenly found itself pulled from the App Store probably because Microsoft used it as an example.
Fortunately for Shadow’s users, that ban was only temporary. The developers successfully argued that they didn’t really offer an alternative content store because what they ultimately provided was remote access to a gaming PC. This would be the same line of reasoning Valve would use in order to get Steam Link approved once and for all.
To date, Stadia and Xbox Game Pass streaming remain absent on iOS and this trial will hardly change that. Not unless Epic Games is able to win its case and force Apple to open up its mobile platform to competing content stores and payment systems.