Ap­ple’s ex­cuse for deny­ing Xbox cloud gam­ing is patently ab­surd

The com­pany is try­ing to weaponize con­cern for its users to pro­tect its busi­ness in­ter­ests.

iPad&iPhone user - - CONTENTS - Ja­son Cross re­ports

On 15 Septem­ber, Mi­crosoft made its Project xCloud ser­vice to stream Xbox games is avail­able to the pub­lic. Pro­vided that pub­lic owns an An­droid de­vice. Any­one with a Game Pass Ul­ti­mate sub­scrip­tion will get to stream over 100 games from the cloud, us­ing their Xbox lo­gin cre­den­tials and cloud saves. But there won’t be an app for your iPhone or iPad, be­cause Ap­ple doesn’t want peo­ple play­ing games un­less they get a cut.

AP­PLE’S FLIMSY EX­CUSE

Why won’t Ap­ple al­low Xbox game stream­ing (or Google’s Sta­dia, or GeForce Now)?

The com­pany gave Busi­nessIn­sider its of­fi­cial rea­son:

The Ap­pS­tore was cre­ated to be a safe and trusted place for cus­tomers to dis­cover and down­load apps, and a great busi­ness op­por­tu­nity for all de­vel­op­ers. 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.

Our cus­tomers en­joy great a pp sand games from mil­lions of de­vel­op­ers, and gam­ing ser­vices can ab­so­lutely launch on the A pp Store as long as they fol­low the same set of guide­lines ap­pli­ca­ble to all de­vel­op­ers, in­clud­ing sub­mit­ting games in­di­vid­u­ally for re­view, and ap­pearing­in­chart­sand­search.In ad­di­tion to the A pp Store, de­vel­op­ers can choose to reach al li Phone and iPad users over the web through Sa­fari and other browser son the A pp Store.

This, to put it sim­ply, is a steam­ing pile of bull­shit.

Ap­ple al­lows video stream­ing ser­vices like Net­flix and Dis­ney+, but doesn’t re­quire their con­tent to be in­di­vid­u­ally listed in the app store or have its con­tent ap­proved. The same goes for books (Kin­dle).

In fact, Ap­ple al­lows both Steam Link and PS4 Re­mote Play apps on the App Store. Those apps go through the same ap­proval process as other apps do (se­cu­rity and pri­vacy and con­tent and so on), but they al­low users to ac­cess vast li­braries of games that are not re­viewed by Ap­ple. Those apps dif­fer from Xbox cloud gam­ing be­cause they’re meant to work only over your lo­cal net­work (clever users can link up over the pub­lic In­ter­net with­out much trou­ble, but it’s not the in­tended use).

It’s a distinc­tion with­out a dif­fer­ence, though. How is the fact that my PS4 games are not “re­viewed against the same set of guide­lines that are in­tended to pro­tect cus­tomers and pro­vide a fair and level play­ing field to de­vel­op­ers” any less mean­ing­ful when I ac­cess them over my home net­work in­stead of the In­ter­net?

PROTECTION­ISM AT ITS FINEST

Many of Ap­ple’s poli­cies re­gard­ing its App Store make a lot of sense from the per­spec­tive of en­sur­ing a cer­tain base­line level of pri­vacy, se­cu­rity, and qual­ity con­trol (they might be bad but they won’t break your phone). It

makes sense for Mi­crosoft’s Xbox game stream­ing app it­self to be held to those same stan­dards.

But the stream­ing cloud games them­selves can’t pos­si­bly break your phone or com­pro­mise your pri­vacy and se­cu­rity; at least, not any more than a Net­flix movie or Kin­dle book or PS4 Re­mote Play game. It’s an ar­gu­ment wholly with­out merit both tech­ni­cally and as a busi­ness prac­tice, and one con­tra­dicted by other apps al­ready al­lowed in the app store.

The real rea­son seems ob­vi­ous: Ap­ple doesn’t want you buy­ing games some­where else and play­ing them on your Ap­ple de­vice. If you’re play­ing a game on your Ap­ple de­vice, Ap­ple wants its cut. But it can’t come right out and ad­mit that be­cause that’s an open ad­mis­sion of an­ti­com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour.

No mat­ter what the App Store rules cur­rently are, it’s crys­tal clear what the rules should be. The nec­es­sary con­sumer­friendly and de­vel­oper-friendly pol­icy change is ob­vi­ous on its face. If Ap­ple wants games in the App Store or on Ap­ple Ar­cade to com­pete with Xbox, PlayS­ta­tion, Sta­dia, or GeForce Now, it should do so by...you know...com­pet­ing. Earn suc­cess by be­ing bet­ter or cheaper or eas­ier or safer or faster or more con­ve­nient or what­ever, not by sim­ply be­ing the only choice. Not when game stream­ing apps pose a risk to your cus­tomers’ pri­vacy or se­cu­rity that is so much less than, say, Google Maps or Ama­zon.

DOES IT RE­ALLY MAT­TER?

This is an is­sue that Ap­ple can prob­a­bly af­ford to be com­pletely in the wrong about. Its ex­cuse about pro­tect­ing cus­tomers is laugh­able in the face of

other stream­ing apps it al­lows, but the num­ber of peo­ple who are go­ing to be re­ally upset about this is rather small.

Even if Xbox game stream­ing gets pretty big af­ter its 15 Septem­ber launch, it’s un­likely that its ab­sence will have a mean­ing­ful im­pact in iPhone or iPad sales. Even if a mil­lion gamers got so upset about not stream­ing Xbox games that they switched to An­droid over the com­ing year, that’s a rel­a­tively small hit for Ap­ple to take (less than 1 per­cent) to pro­tect its 30 per­cent App Store rev­enue cut and Ap­ple Ar­cade ser­vice.

This is not a new prob­lem, and it’s un­likely that Ap­ple is go­ing to see the light and re­al­ize it’s been the bad guy all along. Like any good movie vil­lain, Ap­ple is con­vinced of its own right­eous­ness. Govern­ment in­ter­ven­tion seems just as un­likely

– it seems ca­pa­ble of lit­tle more than mild per­for­mance art re­gard­ing an­ti­com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour from big com­pa­nies.

Ap­ple is fond of say­ing it wants de­vel­op­ers to find suc­cess on the App Store. I won­der if Mi­crosoft feels like Ap­ple is en­abling their suc­cess, or pre­vent­ing it?

Game stream­ing apps pose less of a risk to your pri­vacy than, for ex­am­ple, Google Maps.

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