Apple today announced updates to its App Store Review Guidelines to take into account some new features that are coming in iOS 14, such as App Clips, while also introducing new rules surrounding streaming game services and in-app purchases.
According to Apple’s updated guidelines, streaming game services like Microsoft’s xCloud are allowed, but all of the games included in a streaming game subscription service need to be downloaded directly from the App Store.
Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines – for example, each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.
Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, has user ratings and review, can be managed with Screen Time and other parental control apps, appears on the user’s device, etc.
Streaming game services are, however, allowed to offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and to find the games that have been uploaded to the App Store, so long as the app adheres to all of Apple’s guidelines. Apps must provide users with an option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple. All games must link to an individual App Store product page.
Other rules state that apps classified as “Reader apps” such as Netflix can offer account creation for free tiers and are able to provide account management functionality for existing customers while not offering payment options.
Relating to Fortnite, a new App Store clarification says that apps are not allowed to include hidden, dormant, or undocumented features in apps, with all app functionality clear to end users and Apple’s App Review team. Epic Games snuck a direct payment option into Fortnite that Apple did not approve, which led to the whole legal battle between Apple and Epic.
Apps that offer purchase options for realtime person-to-person experiences between two individuals (such as tutoring) can now use purchase methods other than in-app purchase to collect payments. One-to-a-few and one-to-many experiences that involve more than two people have to use Apple’s in-app purchase system.
Free standalone apps that are companions to paid web-based tools do not need to use Apple’s in-app purchase system so long as there is no purchasing inside the app or calls to action for purchasing outside of the app, which appears to be a new rule related to the snafu over the WordPress app.
Apple’s full list of App Store Guideline changes can be found on the Apple Developer site.