Facebook is not happy with the months of rejections it faced
Facebook is joining Microsoft in condemning Apple’s App Store policies today. The social media company is launching its Facebook Gaming app for iOS – primarily an app used to watch streamers play video games – but had to remove the app’s mini-game feature to pass the rigorous Apple App Store approval process. Facebook is not happy with the deal.
“Unfortunately, we had to completely remove the gaming functionality to get Apple’s approval for the Facebook Gaming standalone application – meaning that iOS users have a lower experience than those using Android,” said Sheryl Sandberg, director of Facebook operations, in a press statement given to The Verge. “We are focused on building communities for more than 380 million people who play on Facebook every month – whether Apple allows it in a standalone application or not.”
Facebook says it has had the Facebook Gaming app rejected several times by Apple in recent months. The company says Apple cited App Store guideline 4.7 to justify the rejections, claiming that the main purpose of the Facebook Gaming app is to play games. Facebook says it shared usage data for its Android application Facebook Gaming, which showed that 95 percent of activity is watching streams, but that hasn’t changed Apple’s stance.
Apple unveiled an appeals process for situations like this at WWDC in June, but Facebook says it tried that and failed to convince Apple to overturn its decision. “We even appealed the directive under the new application review process announced at WWDC,” said a Facebook spokesman. “We didn’t get an answer.”
Facebook has now been forced to give up and remove games entirely from the standalone app launched on iOS today. The Facebook Gaming app is mainly used to watch game streams, just as Twitch is used on iOS and Android. But on Android, the app also includes a series of mini-games from Facebook’s Instant Games platform. This is what Apple does not allow.
This is not the first time that Facebook has encountered problems in the App Store. “Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we were forced to bury Instant Games for years on iOS,” explains Facebook Gaming chief Vivek Sharma in a statement to The Verge. “This is a pain shared by the entire gaming industry, which ends up harming players and developers and severely hampering innovation in mobile devices for other types of formats, such as cloud games.”
Apple is facing growing criticism from rivals and the gaming industry to loosen restrictions on the App Store. Microsoft was forced to cut its tests of xCloud iOS earlier this week, after App Store policies prevented the company from launching the app for months. Microsoft made the unusual decision to condemn Apple yesterday, saying that “Apple is the only general-purpose platform that prevents consumers of cloud games and game subscription services like the Xbox Game Pass.”
Apple defended its decision to block cloud game services like xCloud, Stadia and GeForce Now from the App Store. “Our customers enjoy great apps and games from millions of developers, and game services can be launched 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 graphical display and research, ”an Apple spokesman said in a statement yesterday.
Apple’s argument is that the company cannot individually analyze the games offered on streaming services, but the company does not appear to have the same problems with services like Netflix or YouTube, which stream millions of videos, TV shows and movies to iOS devices. that Apple cannot possibly review.
The latest weak excuse from the Apple App Store came just a few months after the company got into a bitter battle over the new email app Hey. Apple ended up approving the app after the initial rejection drew widespread condemnation from lawmakers and developers. Apple is part of a number of US technology companies that are currently facing possible antitrust lawsuits. The EU has also opened a formal antitrust investigation into Apple’s App Store and Apple Pay practices. With Microsoft and Facebook openly criticizing Apple, the company is likely to face even more questions about App Store policies in the coming months.