Microsoft has fired more shots at Apple over its App Store policies. In recent weeks, Microsoft has been targeting Cupertino for what it believes are monopolizing practices in the iOS app marketplace. Redmond has gone from suggestive criticism to calling Apple out in front of a Congressional committee.
In the latest swipe, Microsoft is blaming Apple for the demise of its Project xCloud – at least for the time being – on iOS. Just yesterday, we reported on Microsoft's decision to stop testing xCloud on iOS. While the company did not say specifically, App Store limitations that hampered the preview from day one were the reason for the axe.
This was confirmed by Apple. According to the iPhone maker, it will flatly not allow game streaming services to be available on the App Store. That means platforms like Project xCloud and Google Stadia. Speaking to Business Insider, Apple says the following:
“The App Store 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 apps and games from millions of developers, and gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search. In addition to the App Store, developers can choose to reach all iPhone and iPad users over the web through Safari and other browsers on the App Store.”
Since Project xCloud arrived on iOS, the development of the service was severely hampered by limitations on the platform. Project xCloud initially debuted on iOS in February. The only game supported was Halo: The Master Chief Collection. Furthermore, users couldn't tap into the Console Streaming feature could not to stream games from your Xbox.
On Android, the preview is ending because Microsoft is readying to launch the full Project xCloud experience this fall. On iOS, the preview won't be extended to next month and it seems development of the service on iOS has been halted.
Speaking to The Verge, a Microsoft spokesperson says Apple's practices are harmful.
“Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass.”
“Our testing period for the Project xCloud preview app for iOS has expired. Unfortunately, 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,” the spokesperson adds. Microsoft argues Apple is “consistently treats gaming apps differently, applying more lenient rules to non-gaming apps even when they include interactive content.”
Apple's decision and Microsoft's inability to provide xCloud means the platform may never arrive on iOS. Certainly, that's not an ending Microsoft is seeking. The company says it is committed to delivering Project xCloud on as many devices as possible, adding work is ongoing to find a solution with Apple.
Recent Monopolizing Accusations
Microsoft has been ramping up pressure on Apple and its App Store practices in recent weeks. In June, Microsoft President and Chief Counsel Brad Smith suggested Apple was creating a monopoly by charging developers 30% of their revenue on the App Store. At the time, Smith stopped short of directly naming the company.
When Smith spoke in front of the United States House Judiciary Antitrust Subcommittee last month, he was more willing to name names. The Subcommittee is investigating the practices of several major tech companies, including Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook. Microsoft is not a part of the investigation, but Smith testified to offer “perspective as a big tech company”.
As well as lamenting limitations on the App Store, Microsoft says Apple simply charges developers too much. Cupertino takes a 30% slice of all app revenue. Smith says this causes problems for developers:
“They impose requirements that increasingly say there is only one way to get on to our platform and that is to go through the gate that we ourselves have created. In some cases they create a very high price per toll — in some cases 30% of your revenue has to go to the toll keeper. The time has come – whether we are talking about D.C. or Brussels – for a much more focused conversation about the nature of app stores, the rules that are being put in place, the prices and the tolls that are being extracted and whether there is really a justification in antitrust law for everything that has been created.”