Facebook announced Monday that cloud gaming is now available on its Android app and on the desktop web version, but said the service would not be available to iOS users due to Apple’s third-party apps policies.
The new service is one way that Facebook users can enjoy free-to-play games without having to log out from the platform. The available games are streamed to users’ devices from Facebook’s data centers without the need to download them. Other tech giants such as Microsoft and Google offer similar cloud-gaming services; however, that of Facebook comes without the sophistication of these other services.
Facebook’s decision not to carry iOS users along in its latest cloud-gaming service dates back to years of disagreements between both companies over user privacy.
After the Cambridge Analytica scandal became public in 2018, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, criticized how the social media giant handled user privacy, saying his company would never be found wanting in that area. The scandal involved a breach of data of about 87 million Facebook users.
Ever since, both companies have regularly thrown jabs at each other. Facebook recently questioned Apple’s App Store policy, whereby the iPhone maker took 30% from paid online events as a result of the iOS App Store’s policies, while businesses could only access 70%. Facebook said that it was unfortunate that the platform was stealing from struggling businesses, Seeking Alpha reports.
The companies calling out each other made lawmakers and regulatory agencies to review laws surrounding antitrust issues. Apple’s App Store policies enable the company to reject apps that act like third-party app stores, including distributing software as the main function of the app and offering bar codes in a store or store-like interface.
Bowing to pressure, Apple had last month reviewed its App Store policy pertaining to gaming services. While the company said that apps can now offer subscriptions to multiple games, every game must be approved by Apple and pass through its app.
Yet, there’s a possibility that Facebook could allow iOS users to access its cloud-gaming services using the mobile web version of the service. On the other hand, Facebook doesn’t want that. It wants users to access the games through the Facebook app only. This was revealed by Facebook’s vice president of special gaming initiatives, Jason Rubin.
“We don’t want people going to web Facebook 20 times a day,” Rubin said. “We have a great app. We would have to use Apple’s technology and browser on iOS, and that isn’t optimized to the benefit of cloud games.”
Rubin decried Apple’s policy, saying that iOS users were denied benefiting from top-notch gaming services that Facebook was offering.
Apple reacted to these claims by Facebook, saying that it allowed software developers to bring cloud games to the iOS platform by submitting each game to the App Store individually. They said developers also have the option of taking the games to its Safari browser. Apple said it would continue to engage with Facebook and reveal how the social media platform can comply with its App Store guidelines.
Facebook, on its part, reacted to Apple’s claims about offering helpful feedback, saying that the company has refused to dialog in the past. Facebook will be offering games like Asphalt 9: Legends and PGA TOUR Golf Shootout. Users will be able to play the mobile versions of the games without using controllers or subscribing.
The latest cloud-gaming service on offer by Facebook is one way it is hoping to get users to spend more time on Facebook, which will invariably increase the company’s revenues. It gives Facebook an opportunity to add another advertising platform, which is the source of 98% of its revenues.
Facebook cloud gaming, for now, will be available to US users near its data centers – including states like Texas, California, Delaware, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington D.C. More regions will be included in the coming months.