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Facebook speaks out against Apple App Store policies following gaming app issue

Following issues with both Microsoft and Google getting their gaming apps onto Apple’s App Store, tech giant Facebook says it also had problems making its Facebook Gaming app available for iOS users.

The Facebook Gaming app is being launched on the App Store today, however, it had to have some functionalities removed in order to be approved by Apple. As reported by The Verge, Facebook Gaming had to remove its minigames feature for Apple to let the app through its notoriously stringent and sometimes seemingly arbitrary review process.

“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 given to Digital Trends. “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.”

The Vice President of Facebook Gaming, Vivek Sharma, also voiced frustration with Apple’s policies, saying in the statement that, “Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we’ve been forced to bury instant games for years on iOS. This is shared pain across the games industry, which ultimately hurts players and devs and severely hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats, like cloud gaming.”

In a report by the New York Times, sources at Facebook suggested that Apple was exerting undue influence over what is and is not allowed in its App Store, implying that Apple was putting its own business interests ahead of fair policies. Apple makes a considerable share of its profits from the App Store from the sales of individual games, and some believe that Apple is deliberately blocking apps through which users could purchase games on iOS without a portion of the profits going to Apple.

In the recent Congressional Big Tech antitrust hearing, Apple was accused of removing or squashing competitors to its own apps from the App Store.

Recently Microsoft and Google have also spoken out against Apple’s App Store Policies. Apple shared that it does not allow cloud gaming services on its app store, so Microsoft’s Project xCloud and Google’s Stadia services have not been made available to iPhone or iPad users. Apple said this policy is because it is unable to review every single game available through these services.

Following this, Microsoft complained that Apple “consistently treats gaming apps differently” and pointed out that all the games it offers through Project xCloud have already been rated by bodies like the Entertainment Software Rating Board.

Updated August 7: Added statements from Facebook.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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