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Apple refuses to allow major gaming apps from Microsoft, Google, and Facebook onto the App Store, and the fight just went public (FB, GOOGL, AAPL, MSFT)
Apple refuses to allow major gaming apps from Microsoft, Google, and Facebook onto the iPhone and...Apple refuses to allow major gaming apps from Microsoft, Google, and Facebook onto the iPhone and iPad App Store. The reason, Apple said, is because those apps provide access to games that haven't been rated by Apple's review guidelines. "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," an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider, "including submitting games individually for review and appearing in charts and search." It's a policy that Apple applies to only game services while allowing apps like Netflix and Spotify to provide access to vast libraries that don't need to pass through Apple's App Store review process. Both Microsoft and Facebook are publicly pushing back on Apple's policy. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. The only way to publish apps onto the iPhone and iPad is through Apple's App Store. And if Apple decides an app you've submitted for publishing violates its publishing requirements, your app won't be available on the Apple App Store. Such is the case with a trio of apps from some of tech's heaviest hitters: Microsoft, Facebook, and Google all have major gaming apps that Apple refuses to publish. Microsoft's Game Pass, Google's Stadia, and Facebook's Gaming app all face roadblocks to publishing on the App Store. The reason? Those companies won't submit each individual game to Apple for review. "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 spokesperson told Business Insider this week. "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." Because each company isn't submitting each game, Apple is blocking the apps that enable access to those games. "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," the statement from Apple said. "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." Given that Apple allows services like Netflix and Spotify without reviewing every piece of content, why not allow a similar service for gaming? The difference boils down to the medium, according to Apple: Games are interactive, unlike music and film, and there are consumer expectations baked into the App Store related to gaming. Those expectations extend to game content, but also to searchability, in-app payment through Apple's built-in services, and App Store charts, according to Apple. In order to get published on Apple's App Store, Facebook outright removed games from its Facebook Gaming app. Google removed the core component of its app — the Google Stadia app on iOS doesn't stream video games to your phone, which is what the service exists to do. And, for the time being, when Microsoft's Game Pass game streaming service launches on September 15, it will only be available on Android smartphones and tablets. "Unfortunately, we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store," a Microsoft spokesperson said on Thursday. "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 COO Sheryl Sandberg had similarly harsh words. "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," Sandberg said in a statement shared with Business Insider on Friday. "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." And in a thread on Twitter, the Facebook Gaming account went further. "After months of submissions and repeated rejections by Apple, we've had to remove instant games entirely from the standalone app," a tweet thread from the account said on Friday. "We can afford to spend ~6 months grinding thru Apple reviews, but many others can't. And while we could have tried additional appeals, we didn't want to hold back from launching the version for livestreamers and fans." Google Stadia representatives didn't respond to a request for comment. What happens next is anyone's guess, but without support for iPhones and iPads, ambitious services like Xbox Game Pass and Google Stadia will assuredly struggle. iPhone users account for nearly half the US market share of smartphone users, according to Statista, and iPad is even more dominant in the tablet market. One thing is certain: Given how critical Xbox Game Pass is to Microsoft's future with the Xbox brand, we've assuredly not heard the end of this. Got a tip? Contact Business Insider senior correspondent Ben Gilbert via email (email@example.com), or Twitter DM (@realbengilbert). We can keep sources anonymous. Use a non-work device to reach out. PR pitches by email only, please.SEE ALSO: When Microsoft's ambitious 'Netflix of gaming' service launches in September, it won't arrive on Apple devices – here's why Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Why electric planes haven't taken off yet
Google’s ambitious new video game service is starting to look like a giant mess — and it isn't even live yet
Google is just days away from entering the video game business with its new platform, Google...Google is just days away from entering the video game business with its new platform, Google Stadia, which launches on November 19. But even before launch, there are already some signs that the service is facing an uphill battle — much of which is Google's own making. Between a paltry line-up of launch games, major limitations on where the service works, and huge limitations on the service's functionality, the launch of Google's first major gaming initiative is starting to look like a mess. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. Google is just days away from launching a video game platform intended to compete with the likes of Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, and PlayStation 4. It's a hugely ambitious new platform named Google Stadia, and it aims to be the Netflix of gaming. It's such a big deal, in fact, that Google CEO Sundar Pichai himself introduced Stadia back in March at the 2019 Game Developers Conference. Why is Stadia so ambitious? Rather than downloading games or playing them off a Blu-ray disc, Stadia streams games to you wherever you are, like Netflix streams movies and TVs to you wherever you are. But with just days to go until the service goes live on November 19, several major red flags have begun waving.SEE ALSO: These are the 12 games you can play when Google's video game streaming platform launches next week 1. There are just 12 games launching with the service, and only one of those games is new. Of the 12 games coming to Stadia on November 19, a single game — "Gylt" — is new. There are three "Tomb Raider" games, making up 25% of the entire launch library. If you're playing Stadia at launch, it means you likely shelled out $130 for the "Founder's Edition" which includes a subscription to Google's "Stadia Pro" service. And Stadia Pro comes with a free game: "Destiny 2." This version of "Destiny 2" comes with a bunch of add-on content, but the fact remains that "Destiny 2" is a game that originally came out in 2017. Worse, "Destiny 2" is an online-only game that is primarily played with other people — but "Destiny 2" on Stadia is siloed off from other platforms, meaning you'll only be able to play with other "Destiny 2" players on Stadia. Google has said that another 14 games will arrive on Stadia's game store by the end of 2019, bringing the total library to 26. The cadence of those releases remains unknown. "They will be launching frequently and as soon as through proper testing/certification," a Google representative told us. 2. There are major limitations with the launch units. There are two ways to play Stadia when it launches in November 19: You can pay $10/month for Stadia Pro, or you can pay $130 for the "Founder's Edition" (now known as the "Premiere Edition"). The latter package comes with Google's Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra — the necessary hardware for playing Google Stadia on a television. By next year, Google also plans to offer a free version as well with a slightly lower resolution than the 4K/HDR visuals offered in the "Pro" tier. But for now, when the service launches on November 19, some of the people who dropped $130 on the Founder's Edition won't actually get what they ordered. Two of Google Stadia's product leads, Andrey Doronichev and Beri Lee, addressed the issue during a Reddit "Ask Me Anything" (AMA) on Wednesday. "You can check your estimated delivery date by logging into [the Google Store] and checking your Order History," Lee said. "You'll get your activation email soon after your order ships. Stadia goes live at 9am PST on Nov 19, and your activation code will work immediately once you receive it. For reference, I ordered my Stadia Founder's Edition in June and my delivery date says November 20-21." Despite Google's long history of operating a digital storefront that ships physical hardware to customers, the tech giant is unable to fulfill pre-orders for Stadia's "Founder's Edition" on launch day. You could, of course, just download the Google Stadia app on your phone, activate your Pro account, and start playing before the Founder's Edition ever arrives. But, as Doronichev points out, "The best experience at launch is on TV (4K, HDR and all)." 3. Even if you already own a Chromecast Ultra, there is no way to play Stadia on a TV at launch without getting a new Chromecast Ultra from Google. Even if you already own a $70 Chromecast Ultra, you still can't play Stadia games on a TV without getting a new Chomecast Ultra from Google. "On Day 1 you should use the Chromecast Ultra that came in your bundle," Doronichev said during the AMA. "It has the latest firmware. We will be updating the existing CC Ultras over the air soon after launch." All of which is to say: If you already own an Chromecast Ultra, it will eventually work with Stadia. But on launch day, you need to get the Chromecast Ultra that comes in the Founder's Edition. 4. Much of the standard game console functionality isn't there with Google Stadia. If you're used to the functionality of modern game consoles, you'll find Stadia lacking at launch. It doesn't have achievement tracking, nor much in the way of system settings/customization options, and some functionality — like partying up with friends — is limited to PC and TV, with mobile support coming later. 5. Stadia goes everywhere you are ... if you have one of Android's Pixel phones, a laptop running the Chrome browser, or you're using a TV with a Chromecast Ultra. The biggest promise of Google Stadia is accessibility: Your games everywhere, no matter where you are. Except, at launch, that isn't the reality. The only smartphones Google Stadia will run on at launch are Google's Pixel line of smartphones (starting with the Pixel 2). The only TVs Google Stadia will run on at launch are ones with a Chromecast Ultra connected. That means no iPhone users, no iPad users, no Android smartphone users who don't have a Pixel 2 or better, and no smart TV users who don't have Google's highest-end, most expensive streaming stick. When are those platforms going to be supported? "Oh man, I wish I knew," Doronichev said. "Truth of the matter is that we want Stadia to run on every screen eventually. Android and iOS and whatnot. We're starting with Pixel this year. Hope to learn a bunch, make it great and start expanding to more devices next year." 6. Much of the promised functionality that's specific to Stadia isn't ready at launch. When Google Stadia was first revealed back in March, a handful of Stadia-specific features were touted. One, called "State Share," was demonstrated as sharing a specific spot in a game — a "save state," if you will — with a friend, solely by sending over a link. Since Stadia is web-based, simply clicking the link will redirect whoever clicks it to Stadia, to the specific spot in the game. That function, among others, won't be available at launch. "Our approach to releasing features on Stadia is similar to how we run Google Search, YouTube and other Google services: gradual rollout and continuous improvement, based on your feedback," Doronichev said. "We always start with nailing the key user-journey and then proceed with releasing extra features. YouTube started with 'watch video.' For Stadia it's 'Play the Game on your biggest screen.' New features will start popping as soon as one week after launch." The other features, like Crowd Play and Stream Connect, are said to arrive in 2020. "And of course there are many more cool new platform features on the roadmap," Doronichev said. "We're aiming to release new stuff weekly after 11/19." 7. Even Google Assistant on Stadia isn't ready for launch. Given that Stadia is a Google product, you might expect it to come with Google's ubiquitous voice command functionality, Google Assistant. Moreover, there's a Google Assistant button quite literally built into the front of the Google Stadia gamepad. But when you get Stadia hooked up and push the button, it won't actually do anything at launch. "We have many Assistant features that we're planning to roll out gradually across different parts of Stadia in the upcoming weeks," Doronichev said. "On Day 1, you can ask your Google Home or your Assistant-enabled device to start a game on Stadia. It will turn on your TV and get you into the game! Soon after (I think it's a few days, but I need to check), you'll be able to use the Assistant button on your controller to interact with the Assistant while on your Stadia Homescreen on Chromecast. Then more devices (PC, Pixel phones). Then support for the Assistant during gameplay, etc." Doronichev explained the lack of Assistant support at launch as a measure of trying to add meaningful voice commands to a gaming platform. "It's easy to just slap on some voice features," he said, "but making Assistant truly helpful is a different thing. We want to get it right. So we're taking the time here."