Apple rejects Facebook’s gaming app, at least for the fifth time


Executives and engineers in Facebook’s gaming division submitted their new app, Facebook Gaming, to Apple last month for approval to offer it in the iPhone maker’s app store.

Apple has been considering Facebook’s app for a few weeks. This month, he delivered his verdict: denied.

The Facebook team was not surprised. This was not the first time Apple has said no to the Facebook Gaming app. Or the second. Or even the third.

Since February, Apple has rejected at least five versions of Facebook Gaming, according to three people with knowledge of the companies, who requested anonymity because the details are confidential. Each time, the people said, Apple cited its rules prohibiting applications with the “primary purpose” of distributing casual games.

Facebook Gaming may also have been affected by appearing to compete with Apple’s own game sales, two people said. Games are by far the most lucrative category of mobile applications in the world. Apple’s App Store, the only officially approved place for iPhone and iPad users to find new games and other programs, generated around $ 15 billion in revenue last year.

Apple’s releases of the app from Facebook, another Silicon Valley powerhouse, illustrate the control it has over the mobile software and entertainment ecosystem – an influence that regulators are increasingly scrutinizing. On Tuesday, the European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, said it has opened a formal antitrust investigation into Apple to determine whether the conditions the company places on app developers violate competition rules.

“We have to make sure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple competes with other application developers,” said Margrethe Vestager, executive vice president of the European Commission in charge of competition policy.

This week, Basecamp publicly complained that its new messaging app, Hey, had been turned down by the App Store because it charged customers outside of Apple’s payment system, preventing the giant company from collecting its 30% reduction.

“We continue to try to find logic and consistency in Apple’s decisions on the App Store,” David Hansson, co-founder and CTO of Basecamp, wrote on Twitter. “The answer is much more basic: power. Apple can do what they want, when they want, so they do it.

Mr Hansson added that the Department of Justice’s antitrust division had contacted him earlier to discuss Apple.

Apple, which will hold its annual developer conference next week, said the App Store has plenty of apps that offer casual gaming and play by its rules, including the main Facebook app.

Facebook has announced that it will release Facebook Gaming when Apple approves it.

Apple has long taken a “closed garden”To its mobile devices while its main mobile competitor, Google and its Android operating system, has adopted a more laissez-faire philosophy. Both companies take 30% of most purchases from their app stores, leaving 70% to app developers.

“Apple and Google Play have always pursued different strategies for their app stores, which align with the closed ecosystem – Apple – versus the open ecosystem – Google – corporate attributes,” Candice said. Mudrick, head of market analysis at Newzoo, a gaming industry research company.

Apple said it is closely monitoring its App Store ecosystem to ensure the highest quality and safety standards. According to his App Store Principles: “When you download an app, it should work as promised. We carefully review each app and ask developers to follow strict guidelines for privacy, design, and business models.

But over time, this has increasingly irritated some app developers. The European Union’s investigation into Apple was boosted by a complaint filed last year by Spotify, whose music streaming service competes with Apple Music. Spotify and others have criticized Apple for charging up to 30% fees on digital services sold through its App Store, arguing that it is a tax that violates competition laws.

Facebook announced its Gaming app in April as people took shelter from the coronavirus pandemic and played more video games. For the social network, the new app was a way to engage its users more deeply.

The free app has three main components: watching live streams of other people playing games; social networking with other players; and play simple games like Words With Friends and Thug Life. On Apple and Android devices, these simple games can be delivered to the Facebook Gaming app using software called HTML5.

Google quickly approved Facebook Gaming for its Google Play app store and started offering the application worldwide on April 20. In the Android version of Facebook Gaming, a catalog of simple games is presented by category and with colorful icons. Some of these games allow players to spend real money on in-game purchases.

Facebook initially submitted its Gaming app to Apple for approval in late February, people familiar with the situation said. Apple rejected this version, they said, citing Section 4.7 of its rules of application, which state that HTML5 games are allowed “as long as the distribution of code is not the primary purpose of the application” and “the code is not offered in a store or a store-like interface”, among other restrictions.

But the initial version of the Gaming app that Facebook showed Apple was similar to the Android version, listing games by category in a way that could be interpreted as “like in store.”

In trying to get the Gaming app through Apple’s review process, Facebook then changed the design of the games’ presentation in a number of ways, people said. Colorful icons have been removed in favor of a bland list. The different game categories have been removed to list all games at once. The ability to sort games has also been removed.

Facebook also included a version that looked almost exactly like how these games are already presented in the main Facebook app on Apple devices, which is a single, non-alphabetical, non-sortable list, people said.

Apple said no to all of them, pointing to the same rule, they said.

In Facebook’s most recent submission, the Gaming app did not include a separate tab for playable games and did not include a way for the user to choose from a wide selection of games to play, people said. . Instead, this version suggested certain games in the user’s news and activity feed.

Apple denied.

Since then, Facebook has weighed its next move. The company plans to launch Facebook Gaming on Apple devices without any playable games, people with knowledge of the social network said. Another option, they said, continues to make playable games even harder for users to find in the app.

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