New rules of Apple App Store will affect Google Stadia, Microsoft xCloud

Apple on Friday revised its App Store guidelines before the release of the latest version of the iPhone operating system, iOS 14, which is expected later this month.

Apple employees use these guidelines to approve or reject apps and updates on the App Store. Those rules have come under intense scrutiny in recent weeks on the part of app makers arguing the iPhone, which runs software on iPhones, and how Apple deducts payments from those apps. In particular, Epic Games, the creator of Fortnite, is in a bitter legal battle with Apple with several of its guidelines, including the requirement to use in-app purchases for digital products. Apple removed Fortnite from its App Store last month.

A major update on Friday relates to game streaming services. Microsoft and Facebook have stated publicly in recent months that Apple’s regulations have restricted what their gaming apps can do on iPhones and iPads. Microsoft’s XCloud service is not available on iOS, and Facebook’s gaming app lacks games on iPhones.

Now Apple says that Google streaming services such as Google Stadia and Microsoft xCloud, are explicitly allowed. But there are situations: Games served in the service need to be downloaded directly from the App Store and not from an all-in-one app. App makers are allowed to release a so-called “catalog app” that links to other games in the service, but each game must be an individual app.

Apple’s rules mean that if the streaming game service has 100 games, all those games will require an individual to have an App Store listing as well as a developer relationship with Apple. Individual games should have some basic functionality when downloaded. All games and stores are required to offer in-app purchases using Apple’s payment processing system, under which Apple typically takes 30% of revenue.

The rules underscore the tension between Apple’s control of its platform, which it says is for safety and security reasons, and emerging gaming services considered by many gaming services to be the future of the gaming industry. Gaming streaming services want to act as a platform for game makers, such as approving individual games and deciding which games to offer, but Apple wants streaming services to bundle games Work as it says and each individual game will need to be reviewed.

Apple does not have a cloud gaming service, but it sells a subscription bundle of iOS arcades called Apple Arcade.

Another change relates to in-person classes purchased inside an iPhone app. This spring, amid the epidemic, many companies that previously enabled users to book in-person products, such as ClassPass, began offering virtual classes. Apple’s rules previously stated that virtual classes were required to use Apple’s in-app payment process.

Apple’s new guidelines say that one-on-one virtual classes, such as fitness training, can bypass Apple for pay, but an instructor where an instructor is teaching more people a class is still called Apple Applications will be required to use K in-app purchases.

Apple also addressed an issue raised by companies such as WordPress and Hey, and loosened the need for free apps to use in-app purchases.

A full log of changes to the App Store is available on Apple’s website.