Facebook blames Apple for not allowing games in Facebook Gaming app

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The social media giant says that it has been forced to release an "inferior" version of its Facebook Gaming app in order for Apple to accept it onto the App Store.

The App Store and Facebook
The App Store and Facebook


Following Microsoft's similar criticism, Facebook says that Apple has forced it to launch a new games app -- without any games. The Facebook Gaming app is currently being rolled out on the App Store after around six months of the social media company trying to persuade Apple to allow the same features found on the Android version.

"Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple's approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app," Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement to The Verge, "meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android."

"We're staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month," she continued. "whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not."

Apple's position, according to Facebook, is that it will not allow apps whose primary function is to distribute other software, including games. Apps must go through the App Store, they can't be loaded through a route where Apple can't curate or vet them.

Facebook says this isn't fair because Facebook Gaming is not centered on playing games. The company showed Apple data from its Android app's usage that showed 95% of activity is from users watching video streams instead.

According to the New York Times, Apple rejected the Facebook Gaming app at least five times since its original submission in February 2020. Each time it was for the same issue over the main function of the app being to deliver games.

"We even appealed the guideline under the new app review process announced at WWDC," said a Facebook spokesperson, referring to Apple's revised App Store procedures. "We did not receive a response."

Apple has been under increasing criticism for its App Store polices, and its fees. The company has sponsored research saying its procedures and prices are comparable to other digital market places, and Tim Cook has defended the App Store to the US House of Judiciary.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 17
    I’m not a fan of FaceBook, but I think there are virtually zero users that expect individual game listings in the App Store. This is a rule that is pitched as “pro-consumer” isn’t actually desired by anyone. I guess if Apple were concerned enough, they could add a TV.app style listing service in the App Store to help find the contained game streaming service. This rule really only applies to streaming services, trivial games, and emulators since there is no other way to create a game collection.

    Apple allows video streaming services to moderate their own content. They can do the same for video game streaming.

    I mention this in the xCloud post, but Apple should focus on AR and mobile gaming where they have a real competitive advantage vs incumbents and otherwise be happy that traditional gamers might still want to be on their platform if not for these rules.  Apple is probably going to release a gaming focused headset in the next year or two with Oculus being their only real competition. Upsetting gamers isn’t a great way to be successful with that.
    edited August 2020 williamlondon
  • Reply 2 of 17
    Zuckbook peed off by Apple? Bring it on. He's apparently worth $100B so he can afford to make a platform inc hardware that competes with Apple. Will he put his money where his mouth is?
    williamlondonDogpersonmacseekerlongpathBeatsaderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 17
    tmaytmay Posts: 5,498member
    What the fuck.

    Facebook says this isn't fair because Facebook Gaming is not centered on playing games. The company showed Apple data from its Android app's usage that showed 95% of activity is from users watching video streams instead.

    Hey Facebook, how about creating a media streaming app instead of a gaming app, leave out the gaming, call it a streaming media app, and resubmit to the app store. 

    I’m not a fan of FaceBook, but I think there are virtually zero users that expect individual game listings in the App Store. This is a rule that is pitched as “pro-consumer” isn’t actually desired by anyone. I guess if Apple were concerned enough, they could add a TV.app style listing service in the App Store to help find the contained game streaming service. This rule really only applies to streaming services, trivial games, and emulators since there is no other way to create an app collection.

    Apple allows video streaming services to moderate their own content. They can do the same for video game streaming.
    Apple has stated explicitly, that they do not allow game streaming services, so why the fuck would Apple need to provide a "TV.app style listing service in the App Store to help find the contained game streaming service"? That list would be a null set!
    Gabypscooter63williamlondoncat52foregoneconclusionDogpersonaderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 17
    spice-boyspice-boy Posts: 1,444member
    It nice to see two monopolies fighting, keep at it greedy titans.
    muthuk_vanalingamwilliamlondon
  • Reply 5 of 17
    tmay said:
    What the fuck.

    Facebook says this isn't fair because Facebook Gaming is not centered on playing games. The company showed Apple data from its Android app's usage that showed 95% of activity is from users watching video streams instead.

    Hey Facebook, how about creating a media streaming app instead of a gaming app, leave out the gaming, call it a streaming media app, and resubmit to the app store. 

    I’m not a fan of FaceBook, but I think there are virtually zero users that expect individual game listings in the App Store. This is a rule that is pitched as “pro-consumer” isn’t actually desired by anyone. I guess if Apple were concerned enough, they could add a TV.app style listing service in the App Store to help find the contained game streaming service. This rule really only applies to streaming services, trivial games, and emulators since there is no other way to create an app collection.

    Apple allows video streaming services to moderate their own content. They can do the same for video game streaming.
    Apple has stated explicitly, that they do not allow game streaming services, so why the fuck would Apple need to provide a "TV.app style listing service in the App Store to help find the contained game streaming service"? That list would be a null set!
    I really don’t personally care if Facebook gaming ends up on the Store, but the point is gamers don’t like the AppStore rules around game services. Apple cites one of the major reasons is they want all of the games on the game service to be discovered through the AppStore.
    edited August 2020 williamlondonBeats
  • Reply 6 of 17
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 334member
    Just another one (Facebook), who is trying to move the furniture in the way he wants, but not in his own home. Well in  somebody else’s home (Apple)
    tmaywilliamlondonDogpersonBeatsaderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 17
    GabyGaby Posts: 180member
    tmay said:
    What the fuck.

    Facebook says this isn't fair because Facebook Gaming is not centered on playing games. The company showed Apple data from its Android app's usage that showed 95% of activity is from users watching video streams instead.

    Hey Facebook, how about creating a media streaming app instead of a gaming app, leave out the gaming, call it a streaming media app, and resubmit to the app store. 

    I’m not a fan of FaceBook, but I think there are virtually zero users that expect individual game listings in the App Store. This is a rule that is pitched as “pro-consumer” isn’t actually desired by anyone. I guess if Apple were concerned enough, they could add a TV.app style listing service in the App Store to help find the contained game streaming service. This rule really only applies to streaming services, trivial games, and emulators since there is no other way to create an app collection.

    Apple allows video streaming services to moderate their own content. They can do the same for video game streaming.
    Apple has stated explicitly, that they do not allow game streaming services, so why the fuck would Apple need to provide a "TV.app style listing service in the App Store to help find the contained game streaming service"? That list would be a null set!
    I really don’t personally care if Facebook gaming ends up on the Store, but the point is gamers don’t like the AppStore rules around game services. Apple cites one of the major reasons is they want all of the games on the game service to be discovered through the AppStore.
    The benefit of a free society is that those that are unhappy with a platform or service they subscribe to are free to vote with their wallets and move on to something else entirely. How wonderfully simple...

    And rich corporations that publicly complain like petulant and calculated children about another business not bending over backward to allow them to piggyback on their successes, well again they have free agency to put their money where their mouth is, and create their own platforms and hardware to compete. 
    edited August 2020 tmaywilliamlondoncat52DogpersonlongpathBeatsaderutterwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 8 of 17
    Gaby said:
    And rich corporations that publicly complain like petulant and calculated children about another business not bending over backward to allow them to piggyback on their successes, well again they have free agency to put their money where their mouth is, and create their own platforms and hardware to compete. 
    I presume that you have the same view when Apple attacks other companies? Which is not uncommon at all by the way.
    williamlondonmuthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 9 of 17
    Thinking about this further... FaceBook situation is a bit different than XCloud despite that they are conflated together.

    Facebook wants social gaming experiences. Ideally, Apple would create an extension that allows multiplayer games (social experiences) to be easily run in another app similar to what Apple Messages can do with in-app games. This is an engineering decision, so I don't expect that Apple should be forced to do this. Ideally any social app would be able to take advantage of this (Messages, House party, Zoom, etc.).  In fact a social experience app extension could extend beyond games to allow other things.  I think this would be very cool and appropriate for our current age of social distancing.  I have struggled coming up with fun things to do in our Zoom happy hours.

    If Apple wanted to do this, I'm sure they could get an SDK out within a few months since they already have something similar for Messages. I think the App Store rules committee should look at feedback they can provide engineering to help allow apps that they currently need to deny. By no means should Apple be forced to do this, but sometimes the best solution to a rules issue requires an OS feature. In fact it would be great if they could give an NDA and allow the app involved to get early access if engineering decides they want to do something. If Apple wants a single store, I think it is in users and developers interests to attempt to look for constructive solutions to problems when possible if the rules can't be changed.
    edited August 2020
  • Reply 10 of 17
    I'm sure one of the reasons Apple has the policy regarding individual app review is because they anticipated these kinds of tactics with streaming, i.e., stuff that's straight out of the "embrace, extend, extinguish" playbook. 
    longpathwatto_cobraFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 11 of 17
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,498member
    Oh no, how terrible for Facebook. When the Messenger app had games I played a couple once, and in the 2 years since never even thought about them again. No one else I know plays them either. It's a Messenger app, it doesn't need a bloated JS game platform bolted on. Executable code aside from JS is not allowed, for good reason.
    edited August 2020 longpathaderutter
  • Reply 12 of 17
    I'm sure one of the reasons Apple has the policy regarding individual app review is because they anticipated these kinds of tactics with streaming, i.e., stuff that's straight out of the "embrace, extend, extinguish" playbook. 
    Yep, *this* and Facebook has too much power among social apps anyway. I'd like to see in-app social experiences supported, but in a way that democratizes it across social platforms like I wrote above.  The Apple store was originally a force for app democratization and I think Apple should continue this effort when it plans new app extensions.

    I think that XCloud may have the opposite effect though. Rather than giving Microsoft power, it attracts gamers to Apple platforms. Get gamers on your platform then sell them gaming services in other gaming niches that XCloud can't support: native local games and AR games. Most of the games in XCloud will never run on Apple devices or if they do it will be at higher latency and lower frame rate. Technically everyone wins and Apple could still create their own streaming competitor in the future if it makes sense.

    In the case of XCloud I think Apple could cordon this off to allow mainstream AAA game streaming without allowing other types of interactive streaming. I think some other types of streaming should be allowed too, but that is a topic for another discussion.  I'm sure this can be done without falling to the "embrace, extend, extinguish" play.  Apple has a lot of power on the App Store to prevent that. The drawbacks of streaming will also help prevent that since we are not saying allow a store of native apps on the device.  

    I agree with you that Apple is in the right to prevent situations that could create a separate native app market place, but I think all of these cases can be taken care of with targeted rules. There are some very legitimate uses for app-in-an-app that I don't think should be against Apple's philosophy for the store with game streaming and social experience app extensions (a la FaceBook) just being the tip of the iceberg.


    edited August 2020 watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 17
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 11,761member
    spice-boy said:
    It nice to see two monopolies fighting, keep at it greedy titans.
    Wait wut? What market does Apple have a monopoly in? don’t say the app store, because that’s like saying Burger King has a monopoly on its own restaurants by not letting McDonald’s sell Big Macs in them. 
    edited August 2020 gmgravytrainRayz2016aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 17
    spice-boy said:
    It nice to see two monopolies fighting, keep at it greedy titans.
    Wait wut? What market does Apple have a monopoly in? don’t say the app store, because that’s like saying Burger King has a monopoly on its own restaurants by not letting McDonald’s sell Big Macs in them. 
    Monopoly:  A monopoly refers to when a company and its product offerings dominate a sector or industry.  (How is Apple dominating any sector or industry?)

    I like your example.  People are so ridiculous saying Apple has a monopoly despite having such a tiny market share.  No one is forcing developers to put apps on the App Store.  That's their choice.  Android OS should be more enough for those developers with 85% of the mobile market share.  Android OS must have around a few billion active users to make money from.  Google Play has slack rules and practically anything goes, so why develop for iOS if it's a hassle.  Why are developers whining?  Tim Cook keeps saying Apple doesn't have anything that approaches the classic definition of a monopoly, so why do they keep saying Apple has a monopoly.

    aderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 17
    GabyGaby Posts: 180member
    spice-boy said:
    It nice to see two monopolies fighting, keep at it greedy titans.
    Wait wut? What market does Apple have a monopoly in? don’t say the app store, because that’s like saying Burger King has a monopoly on its own restaurants by not letting McDonald’s sell Big Macs in them. 
    Monopoly:  A monopoly refers to when a company and its product offerings dominate a sector or industry.  (How is Apple dominating any sector or industry?)

    I like your example.  People are so ridiculous saying Apple has a monopoly despite having such a tiny market share.  No one is forcing developers to put apps on the App Store.  That's their choice.  Android OS should be more enough for those developers with 85% of the mobile market share.  Android OS must have around a few billion active users to make money from.  Google Play has slack rules and practically anything goes, so why develop for iOS if it's a hassle.  Why are developers whining?  Tim Cook keeps saying Apple doesn't have anything that approaches the classic definition of a monopoly, so why do they keep saying Apple has a monopoly.

    What they really mean is $$$$ -  Apple has attracted almost all the affluent users with its rather small “market share” and with this argument they are basically admitting that android is a dead end for them.  
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 17
    Remember web apps? The way of the original iPhone when released?

    I don't have an extreme opinion on all this. But I'm leaning towards Appel finding a solution to let this stuff happen. I personally don't see myself playing a game this way...if I have an xbox why would I ever want to lay it on a tiny phone? And is bandwidth available (if you are traveling and want to game which this seems to be the point of) where you want to use it? I feel like there would be a lot of really poor experiences using a streaming game service...But I can't see a strong logical argument to stop it.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 17
    qwerty52qwerty52 Posts: 334member
    Gaby said:
    And rich corporations that publicly complain like petulant and calculated children about another business not bending over backward to allow them to piggyback on their successes, well again they have free agency to put their money where their mouth is, and create their own platforms and hardware to compete. 
    I presume that you have the same view when Apple attacks other companies? Which is not uncommon at all by the way.
    It is very seldom (not to say “never”) that Apple bothers itself with other’s  companies businesses . Usually Apple gives an answers to the criticism given from other companies to Apple’s own business. Everyone is blaming Apple for their own failures.
    watto_cobra
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