Today, after a long wait, Facebook launched its Facebook Gaming app for iOS, but it’s arriving in a state that many users probably weren’t expecting. While the Android version of the app allows users to watch livestreams and play Instant Games, the iOS version of the app is missing some of that functionality. Specifically, the iOS version of Facebook Gaming is launching without Instant Games, meaning it’s entirely dedicated to gaming livestreams on Facebook.
Facebook, as you might imagine, is not happy about this. In a thread on Twitter, the company explains that Apple has rejected the Facebook Gaming app multiple times over the past several months. “Citing App Store guideline 4.7, Apple rejected the app claiming the primary purpose of the Facebook Gaming app is to play games,” Facebook explained. “It’s not. ~95% of app activity on Android is from watching livestreams. We shared this stat with Apple, but no luck.”
Facebook goes on to say that it has also “appealed the guideline under the new app review process announced at WWDC,” but hasn’t received a response so far. Toward the end of the thread, Facebook apologized to developers and players for launching the app without Instant Games, saying, “Playing games will always be part of Facebook Gaming whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”
As for whether or not we’ll see Facebook add Instant Games to the iOS app in the future, that’s obviously up in the air. It’s always possible that this launch and the fact that Facebook is calling Apple out publicly will get Apple to reconsider its stance on Instant Games, but for now, the Facebook Gaming app on iOS is a destination for gaming livestreams and gaming livestreams only.
“Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we’ve been forced to bury instant games for years on iOS,” said vice president of Facebook Gaming Vivek Sharma. “This is shared pain across the games industry, which ultimately hurts players and devs and severely hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats, like cloud gaming. And while it’s disheartening to deliver only part of the Facebook Gaming app experience on iOS, our gaming creators have asked for it for awhile. We thank them for waiting this long.”
We’ll see what happens from here, but it’s very clear that Facebook is not happy with Apple’s decision. For now, it seems that iOS users who want to play Facebook’s Instant Games on mobile don’t have a particularly good option, because Facebook Gaming was intended to be the new home for Instant Games after Facebook removed them from Messenger. We’ll update you if the situation with Facebook Gaming’s iOS app changes, so stay tuned.