Facebook Gaming Makes its Way to the App Store

Facebook finally launched its Facebook Gaming app to Apple product users Aug. 7 after six months of attempting to bring the app to the App Store.

Facebook has been fighting to get Facebook Gaming approved by Apple since February 2020. As of June 2020, Apple denied Facebook’s app approval to be sold on the App Store at least five times.

The app’s primary purpose is to allow users to watch streamers play video games. Before the adjustments made to allow the app onto the App Store, Facebook Gaming also featured a mini-game feature.

Apple repeatedly denied Facebook the right to put its app on Apple’s app store because it did not meet the criteria of Apple’s rule 4.7, which prohibits apps with the “main purpose” of distributing casual games.

Facebook said that it shared user data from its Android Facebook Gaming app that showed 95 percent of activity on the app comes from watching streams. However, Apple still denied Facebook the ability to put the app on its App Store.

According to The New York Times, Facebook acquiesced to Apple’s demands and entirely removed playable games from its app to meet Apple’s “main purpose” rule.

“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’s chief operating officer, said in a press statement given to The Verge. “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.”

Apple’s App Store is the only official platform for iPhone and iPad users to find new games and other programs. The distribution of games for mobile phones is a highly lucrative business for Apple. According to The New York Timesthe app store generated $15 billion in revenue last year.

The newspaper also speculated that the perception that Facebook Gaming intended to compete with the lucrative app store most likely hurt Facebook’s app approval process.

Several other organizations, besides Facebook, have raised complaints about Apple’s allegedly anti-competitive behavior.

The European Union has launched an antitrust investigation of the company. Apple also recently appeared before Congress in an antitrust hearing against major tech companies.

During the antitrust hearing, Mark Zuckerberg called out Apple without naming them, saying “some are upstarts, but others are gatekeepers with the power to decide if we can even release our apps in their app stores to compete with them.”

Microsoft also joined in complaints against Apple. The company forced Microsoft to cut its xCloud iOS testing earlier this week because of App Store policies that prevented the company from launching the app for months.

In a statement on Aug. 6 to The Verge, a spokesperson for Microsoft said, “Apple stands alone as the only general purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass.”

While Apple did not directly address Facebook’s complaints, the company stated that it designed its App Store policies to protect consumers. Apple added that it had allowed other apps that included games into the App Store.

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