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Apple finally opened the App Store to cloud gaming services

Published Jan 25th, 2024 3:46PM EST
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Image: Apple Inc.

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If you believe in the future of cloud gaming, you know that one of the major hurdles to popularizing the technology is how Apple has limited these services on its devices. Up until now, Apple has only let services like Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now run through its Safari browser, keeping the doors closed to the App Store itself.

That policy is finally — FINALLY — changing. In a blog post on its developer website, Apple announced that it is opening up the App Store to cloud gaming services. Now, developers will be able to run their game streaming services through a native app on devices like the iPhone, iPad, Mac, and Apple TV instead of being limited to a browser window.

Today, Apple is introducing new options for how apps globally can deliver in-app experiences to users, including streaming games and mini-programs. Developers can now submit a single app with the capability to stream all of the games offered in their catalog.

Apps will also be able to provide enhanced discovery opportunities for streaming games, mini-apps, mini-games, chatbots, and plug-ins that are found within their apps.

Xbox Cloud Gaming beta for iOS and PC starts on April 20th. Image source: Microsoft

In addition to letting cloud gaming services into the App Store, the company is going to allow developers to use the company’s In-App Purchase system for all the mini-games, mini-apps, and more within the larger app. Of course, Apple benefits from this since developers will be charged App Store fees to process those transactions, but it does mean that gamers will be able to make in-game purchases for the games they are streaming (if the cloud gaming service allows it, of course).

Additionally, mini-apps, mini-games, chatbots, and plug-ins will be able to incorporate Apple’s In-App Purchase system to offer their users paid digital content or services for the first time, such as a subscription for an individual chatbot.

Each experience made available in an app on the App Store will be required to adhere to all App Store Review Guidelines and its host app will need to maintain an age rating of the highest age-rated content included in the app.

Image source: Nvidia

This is a huge win. I personally subscribe to Xbox Game Pass and have tried streaming games through Safari on my iPhone, iPad, and Mac. That experience…isn’t great. While it technically works, it’s certainly not as smooth as using a native app. You don’t need to try cloud gaming to know this. Using the Target website on the iPhone versus the Target app will quickly show you how much smoother the experience is when you use the app.

Now that this is real, I’m really curious to see if any of the cloud gaming services actually make the jump and release an app in the App Store. I imagine that Apple has already had conversations with Microsoft and Nvidia to try and get Xbox Cloud Gaming and Nvidia GeForce Now to bring their services through the App Store, especially if they can grab a piece of that revenue.

Regardless of how the money between the companies works out, I really hope Xbox Game Pass comes to the App Store. I would love to stream games natively on the iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and I would be over the moon if I could do so with the Apple TV. That would be the dream.

Opening up the App Store to cloud gaming services is part of a larger announcement today where Apple also opened up sideloading and third-party payments for the first time — but those are limited to users in the European Union.

Joe Wituschek Tech News Contributor

Joe Wituschek is a Tech News Contributor for BGR.

With expertise in tech that spans over 10 years, Joe covers the technology industry's breaking news, opinion pieces and reviews.

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