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Epic vs Apple


Starhawk
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Yes. Those are the kind of enforced changes I'd get behind if that's what this actually means. I really don't want an abundance of app stores on my device. I like many aspects of the so called walled garden, but nonsensical contradictions of the platform like being able to to buy a product in the Amazon app, but not buy an audiobook within the Audible app, always struck me as ridiculous.

 

It doesn't seem as if either party truly "won" this fight, but that a logical middle ground was met. Whether Sweeney is happy to stop there remains to be seen of course. 

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6 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

That should reverse the woes Microsoft have had with a Game Pass app, no?


Not really. This ruling only applies to in app purchases. From what I’ve read, Apple is not going to be forced to allow third-party stores on the App Store like Epic’s. The same would apply to Game Pass as well.

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8 hours ago, JFo said:


Not really. This ruling only applies to in app purchases. From what I’ve read, Apple is not going to be forced to allow third-party stores on the App Store like Epic’s. The same would apply to Game Pass as well.

 

Ah. That's what really baffles me as I don't see the argument that Game Pass is a store, and again it's the contradiction of Apple's App Store that will give the OK for Netflix or Amazon Prime apps, but not Game Pass.

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This is going to get dragged out for years.  There's the inevitable appeals, but then it'll end up as being offer your own IAP, but you also have to offer app store billing, and app store has to be the default and more prominent, and you're not allowed to discount direct purchases, etc.  Best you could probably hope for is that it'll turn out like the browser/search balloting stuff that came in for the EU, but that'll take some serious legal/political will. 

 

Still, it seems like a move in the right direction. 

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8 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

 

Ah. That's what really baffles me as I don't see the argument that Game Pass is a store, and again it's the contradiction of Apple's App Store that will give the OK for Netflix or Amazon Prime apps, but not Game Pass.

 

24 minutes ago, Paul said:

If I remember, the problem is you can buy the games thru the app. So, Someone correct me, but couldn’t MS just add an external link to the app to buy the games rather then have it go thru the app? 

 

The issue is that Apple sees passive media (movies, TV shows, books, etc.) differently than video games. In their eyes, video games are software, and if you want your software on the App Store, it has to be directly downloadable. In other words, you can't use an app like Game Pass to stream games from a server over the Internet. The games have to come through the App Store itself. The one exception is if you stream from a device in your home. This is why both Sony and Microsoft have apps on the App Store that allow you to play games from your personal PlayStation or Xbox to your iPhone or iPad. I believe Valve has a similar app for users with their gaming PCs.

 

I'm not saying I agree with it, but that is the argument they have made about the subject.

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5 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

In other words, it's a threat to Apple Arcade.

I don’t know if that quite works, as it’s not any more a threat that Netflix is to Apple TV+.

 

The problem is that if you can offer your cloud-based software subscription service without them getting a cut of Xbox sub fees, it’s a danger to the entire App Store. 

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On 9/11/2021 at 11:49 AM, JFo said:

The issue is that Apple sees passive media (movies, TV shows, books, etc.) differently than video games. In their eyes, video games are software, and if you want your software on the App Store, it has to be directly downloadable. In other words, you can't use an app like Game Pass to stream games from a server over the Internet. The games have to come through the App Store itself. The one exception is if you stream from a device in your home. This is why both Sony and Microsoft have apps on the App Store that allow you to play games from your personal PlayStation or Xbox to your iPhone or iPad. I believe Valve has a similar app for users with their gaming PCs.

I thought the argument they were making was more about wanting to review/rate individual software titles?  Still inconsistent with media apps, but it's a way to avoid the "my kid installed the game pass app and streamed an M rated game even though the parental controls were set on ios" argument.  And try to make more money. 

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16 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

But they're not taking a cut of Netflix or D+ subscription fees are they? 


No, they don’t, unless the app has a function to purchase a subscription through the app (which these ones do not). 
 

This isn’t about getting their cut on subscriptions. They kind of gave up on that long ago when they allowed “reader” apps to use subscriptions and purchases made outside of the app. They have just made it difficult for these apps to advertise this fact in hopes that they keep/add back in an in app version. This new policy/judgement is just allowing those apps to link to a website where someone can manage their subscription. 
 

For Epic, this would, at the very least, allow them to simply link to their store in Fortnite (assuming games get the same rules as a “Reader” app)
 

I think the issues with what MS wants to do with Gamepass Streaming is primarily about two things:

 

1 - The distinction of software, and Apple’s ability to control what software can and cannot run on their devices. Despite the comparisons to Gamepass Streaming just being like Netflix and Audible, there is a difference. Streaming a video or audiobook and streaming software that you can interact with, and which can interact back with your device are quite different things. If they were to start to allow this, this is certainly something that potentially could be used to get around other Apple and App Store policies, and even security and privacy policies. There is certainly a precedent for Apple to make special deals with certain companies that could allow Microsoft to do this, but not others. But I don’t actually think Apple likes doing this and wouldn’t want to set a precedent of allowing this. I don’t think Gamepass and similar services is enough of a “need to have” for iOS yet that they really care. 
 

2 - Keeping as much control over in-app purchases as possible. With Gamepass, many of the games being played have their own in app purchases which affect the game you’re playing directly (vs buying a toaster from Amazon), and in some cases can even affect an iOS game. You could maybe see why Apple wouldn’t like someone playing Fortnite through Gamepass, buying some currency in there, where Epic and MS both get a cut, but Apple doesn’t. Where is the line drawn? Gamepass would probably just be an app that would stream the games in Gamepass and not much else, but that doesn’t mean that’s the case with all apps. You can imagine a scenario where Fortnite is still a game you download and play on your phone, but when you click on the store button it switches to some sort of streaming store where you enter personal information and purchase game credit but it’s still all done within the app. Should this be allowed? (Possibly, but at that point they may as just let Epic include their own payments system in the app). 

 

I’m not saying that I am on Apples side, or that I don’t think MS should be allowed to make a proper Gamepass app for iOS, but I do see a distinction between what Gamepass Streaming would be and what Netflix, and even PlayStation Remote Play, does. I do think Apple should be allowed some control over what apps can and cannot do on their devices, and allowing too many compromises could lead to issues. 

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10 hours ago, Graeme said:


No, they don’t, unless the app has a function to purchase a subscription through the app (which these ones do not). 
 

This isn’t about getting their cut on subscriptions. They kind of gave up on that long ago when they allowed “reader” apps to use subscriptions and purchases made outside of the app. They have just made it difficult for these apps to advertise this fact in hopes that they keep/add back in an in app version. This new policy/judgement is just allowing those apps to link to a website where someone can manage their subscription. 
 

For Epic, this would, at the very least, allow them to simply link to their store in Fortnite (assuming games get the same rules as a “Reader” app)
 

I think the issues with what MS wants to do with Gamepass Streaming is primarily about two things:

 

1 - The distinction of software, and Apple’s ability to control what software can and cannot run on their devices. Despite the comparisons to Gamepass Streaming just being like Netflix and Audible, there is a difference. Streaming a video or audiobook and streaming software that you can interact with, and which can interact back with your device are quite different things. If they were to start to allow this, this is certainly something that potentially could be used to get around other Apple and App Store policies, and even security and privacy policies. There is certainly a precedent for Apple to make special deals with certain companies that could allow Microsoft to do this, but not others. But I don’t actually think Apple likes doing this and wouldn’t want to set a precedent of allowing this. I don’t think Gamepass and similar services is enough of a “need to have” for iOS yet that they really care. 
 

2 - Keeping as much control over in-app purchases as possible. With Gamepass, many of the games being played have their own in app purchases which affect the game you’re playing directly (vs buying a toaster from Amazon), and in some cases can even affect an iOS game. You could maybe see why Apple wouldn’t like someone playing Fortnite through Gamepass, buying some currency in there, where Epic and MS both get a cut, but Apple doesn’t. Where is the line drawn? Gamepass would probably just be an app that would stream the games in Gamepass and not much else, but that doesn’t mean that’s the case with all apps. You can imagine a scenario where Fortnite is still a game you download and play on your phone, but when you click on the store button it switches to some sort of streaming store where you enter personal information and purchase game credit but it’s still all done within the app. Should this be allowed? (Possibly, but at that point they may as just let Epic include their own payments system in the app). 

 

I’m not saying that I am on Apples side, or that I don’t think MS should be allowed to make a proper Gamepass app for iOS, but I do see a distinction between what Gamepass Streaming would be and what Netflix, and even PlayStation Remote Play, does. I do think Apple should be allowed some control over what apps can and cannot do on their devices, and allowing too many compromises could lead to issues. 

 

To be honest I hadn't really given much thought to people paying for microtransactions or dlc for games on Game Pass given the nature of the majority of games on the service only having a finite window of availability. I'd actually love to see some data on how many people opt in to taking advantage of a title on Game Pass but pay for expansions/dlc vs playing something on Game Pass, opting to actually buy the core game outright before then investing in DLC...etc.

 

All that said, is the store aspect even a factor of xCloud? I know it's bound to your MS/Xbox account, but does it let you make purchases within the service or is it like the Audible app where you're basically left to access the purchases you've made outside of the app via Amazon/Audible's website? I'd always assumed it to be the latter, in which case I still don't understand why the comparison to Audible, Netflix...etc. would be unfair. Apple made the comment that they can't regulate the quality of content on Game Pass in terms of each game's suitability is concerned, and would demand each game be submitted to the store individually, but then why not ask that of audiobooks and films too? Why are they happy to trust Amazon and Netflix's judgement when it comes to their own internal moral and ethical codes for quality control with regards whatever they might place onto their services, but not Microsoft and xCloud? 

 

Incidentally, I found The Verge's timeline of major Apple App Store policy changes interesting to look back on:

 

https://www.theverge.com/22667242/apple-app-store-major-policy-changes-history

 

 

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4 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

To be honest I hadn't really given much thought to people paying for microtransactions or dlc for games on Game Pass given the nature of the majority of games on the service only having a finite window of availability.


I’m sure people do, but regardless, this issue isn’t just about MS and xCloud. What MS does and doesn’t do right now isn’t the only relevant consideration. This also affects Stadia (where you do purchase games to “own”), possibly PS Now, and other future services using this technology.

 

Right now, this is being used primarily for games, but there is no reason this couldn’t be used for other, non game related things. 
 

This also assumes that the current version of xCloud won’t change to allow for purchased games, or F2P games without any subscription, or whatever else they may want to do. 

 

4 hours ago, Angry the Clown said:

Apple made the comment that they can't regulate the quality of content on Game Pass in terms of each game's suitability is concerned, and would demand each game be submitted to the store individually,


I don’t think content here is strictly of the “it can’t be porn” variety. How the app behaves, what information it is requesting from the user, what it is submitting to an outside server is also “content” of the app. 
 

I think the issue is that most are thinking of streaming games as simply being video that can respond to your inputs. But it is actually software running on another server instead of your device. 
 

Let’s assume, hypothetically, that Apple had a policy that apps couldn’t ask for someone’s Social Security Number. If someone makes an app with a form and a submit function, Apple would review that to ensure it isn’t submitting information that it shouldn’t. If that for was running virtually on another server, they could ask for any information they wanted and Apple couldn’t review that in the same way (or if they changed it after the app launched). 
 

Not only could the form be asking for info that it shouldn’t, but there could be a key logger that records everything you enter, even if you don’t hit the submit button. 
 

Now imagine virtual software was asking for your Apple ID and was able to display a prompt that made it look convincingly that it was a prompt from your phone asking to confirm your login. 

 

These are the types of things that Apple has some control over with its policies and review process, and could possibly lose control over. There would still be some protections, but it may also start to rely on user reports of suspicious software like the Play Store does.

 

This is the difference between “content” on Netflix and Audible and virtual software running on another server. 
 

I really don’t think this is a “Apple won’t allow xCloud on iOS” specifically targeting MS. I really do think this is them not wanting to bend on their general policy just to allow MS to have an xCloud app. 
 

They could make exceptions to allow it on an app by app basis, but I don’t think there is enough incentive for them yet, and this puts them in a difficult situation where they are approving and denying apps that are doing, more or less, the same thing.
 

Until it is affecting many people’s buying decisions on what devices to buy, there is little need for them to do this. 
 

I would argue that they’ve bent these rules for other apps because Netflix, Spotify, Prime Video, Disney+, Office, etc are not a “nice to have”, but a “need to have”. If the iPhone/iPad/AppleTV didn’t have these apps, people definitely would look elsewhere. In these cases though, for the most part, the exceptions made for these apps have extended to other apps as well and have not been an app specific exception. Right now, xCloud and Stadia are “nice to have”. That could change in the future, and Apple will have to revisit this. 

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