Facebook is joining Microsoft in condemning Apple's App Store policies today. Facebook is launching its Facebook Gaming app for iOS — an app used primarily to watch streamers play video games — but unfortunately, Facebook had to remove the app's mini-games feature to pass Apple's strict App Store approval process. Facebook isn't happy about this compromise.
"Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely so as to get Apple's approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app — meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android," said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer during a press 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."
Facebook says it had the Facebook Gaming app rejected multiple times by Apple in recent months. Facebook says Apple has cited App Store guideline 4.7 to justify the rejections, claiming the primary purpose of the Facebook Gaming app is to play games. Facebook says it shared usage data from its Android Facebook Gaming app that showed 95 percent of activity is watching streams, but this didn't change Apple's stance.
"We even appealed the guideline under the new app review process announced at WWDC back in June," says a Facebook spokesperson. "We did not receive a response."
Facebook has now been forced to give up and remove games entirely from the standalone app launching on iOS today. The Facebook Gaming app is primarily used to watch streams of games, very similar to Twitch which is used on both iOS and Android. But on Android, the app also includes a number of mini-games from Facebook's Instant Games platform. That's what Apple won't allow.
Microsoft was forced to cut its xCloud iOS testing earlier this week after App Store policies have been preventing the company from launching the app for months. Microsoft took the weird decision to condemn Apple yesterday, saying "Apple stands alone because the only general-purpose platform to deny consumers from cloud gaming and game subscription services like Xbox Game Pass."
Apple is facing growing criticism from rivals and therefore the gaming industry to loosen its App Store restrictions. With Microsoft and Facebook openly criticizing Apple, the company is sure to face even more questions over its App Store policies in the months ahead.