Facebook Gaming strips back iOS app, condemns App Store policies

While Facebook previously planned to bring its Facebook Gaming app to iOS earlier in 2020, complications surrounding Apple’s strict App Store policies saw repeated rejections. Apple’s concerns stemmed from ancillary features for its live-streaming platform, with an integrated library of playable games at odds with its developer guidelines. Facebook has now scaled back its app in a last-ditch effort to comply, as Apple’s control over its digital marketplace faces increased scrutiny.

While Facebook Gaming primarily serves as an answer to live-streaming platforms like Amazon-owned Twitch and Google’s YouTube Gaming, its mobile application also houses a small library of playable mobile titles. Facebook states Apple rejected the app multiple times, citing rules which prohibit apps with the “main purpose” of game distribution. The company has now removed those games from its iOS app, as reported by iMore, stripped to fundamental streaming and community features.

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“Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app — meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android,” Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO, said in a statement. “We’re staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month — whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”

Microsoft recently spoke out over similar restrictions imposed on its Project xCloud game streaming technology, which sees the Xbox platform holder unable to reach iOS devices. While eyeing an Android debut on September 15, it tells Windows Central “we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store.”

Facebook Gaming’s compromise is yet another twist in the ongoing App Store saga and Apple’s policy over gaming services on its iOS platform. It comes amid mounting concerns of anti-competitive practices, accelerating conversations surrounding antitrust among top U.S. firms, with calls for change on the rise.

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