Recent news on how Apple does not allow streaming video game platforms are generating a great controversy between users, and Apple’s position must change immediately, or its users will be the biggest losers.
Stadia or xCloud will not reach iOS devices, at least that is what Apple maintains at the moment, because they violate the rules of the App Store. According to the Cupertino company these types of applications have no place in the App StoreTherefore, iPhone or iPad users are left without being able to enjoy what many describe as the future of video games: streaming.
A new concept of video games
It is something that many still do not know, despite the fact that some services of this type have been working for a while. Google’s Stadia or xCloud could be described as “the Netflix of video games.” You contract a service for a monthly fee and that gives you access to a limited catalog of video games which you can play without having to download them to your device, because everything is done via streaming. This means that your machine matters “little”, you only need a good internet connection to be able to play, and a compatible controller.
The comparison with Netflix, HBO or Disney +, although some maintain that it is not the same, is inevitable. A monthly fee, a limited catalog that can vary over time, an internet connection … and nothing more. Apple does not have access to the catalog offered by streaming video platforms, nor do users. You pay for Netflix, and the most viewed movies or series on Netflix do not appear in the rankings of most viewed movies or series on iTunes. You also don’t know the catalog that it offers you when you download the application. There can be content in 4K, or only in FHD, with Dolby Atmos sound or simply in stereo. Apple cannot guarantee user satisfaction with Netflix, because it does not control its content. It is the user who decides whether the service is worth it or not.
All this is also valid for streaming music services, and Apple accepts it that way without the slightest problem. However, it is not valid, according to Apple, for streaming video games. Apple hides behind rules of its application store in which developers should submit each game to their app store for review individually. If we compare it with Netflix, it would be as if Apple required the platform to send each movie and series for Apple to review and give it the go-ahead. There are those who maintain that it is not comparable, I do not see any reason why they cannot be compared.
The rules have to be changed
Those rules are there, and I am the first who on many occasions has assured that the rules are there to be met, but there also come times when the rules have to be changed to adapt them to the new times. Surely when these standards were created, this type of video game platform did not yet exist, nor were they in the heads of their creators. The generalization of high-speed internet and the deployment of 5G networks with low latency have made this idea of streaming gaming possible, and Apple cannot be left behind, or rather, Apple cannot leave its users behind.
Asking companies to submit their games individually so you can review them is utter nonsense, as is holding onto that users can’t see those games on the App Store charts. Do you see the most watched Netflix series when you search for the app in its app store? The user pays for a service, and what he downloads is the app for that service. Apple must demand that this app meets the requirements in terms of quality and privacy, that it is perfectly adapted to different devices and screens, and that it makes use of resources correctly. If the experience is not good or the catalog is insufficient, it will be the user who values it and decides whether to continue paying for it or not.
A sample of how these rules are absurd we have it in the existence of applications such as PS4 Remote or Steam Link. They are apps that allow you to access your PS4 or PC and play on your iOS device. PS4 Remote even allows you to play remotely, outside of your local network. Are those games on the App Store? Do they appear on the hit list? Has Apple reviewed these games before approving the applications? The answer is “no” for all questions. What is the difference with Stadia or xCloud? There are differences, obviously, but in the end the concept is similar, and the absence of control by Apple is the same in all cases.
Users, the big losers
Apple offers us the best devices, the best screens and the compatibility with the best controllers. However, it limits our access to the best video game services. Apple Arcade is a good service for those who like quality video games designed specifically for mobile devices, but it is far from satisfying users who are more gamers than what they want is the experience of video consoles on their iPhone or iPad to be able to play on any place. I have no doubt that Apple will have to rectify and change these restrictive rules, because this time they are not developer complaints, we are before many very unhappy users and a lot of noise is being generated.