Facebook Gaming strips back iOS app, condemns App Store policies

Facebook (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Facebook has condemned Apple's App Store policies, pulling features from its Facebook Gaming application for iOS to comply with developer guidelines.
  • Facebook Gaming on iOS removes playable games present in its Android counterpart, as Apple cracks down on game distribution.

While Facebook previously planned to bring its Facebook Gaming app to iOS earlier in 2020, complications surrounding Apple's strict App Store policies saw repeated rejections. Apple's concerns stemmed from ancillary features for its live-streaming platform, with an integrated library of playable games at odds with its developer guidelines. Facebook has now scaled back its app in a last-ditch effort to comply, as Apple's control over its digital marketplace faces increased scrutiny.

While Facebook Gaming primarily serves as an answer to live-streaming platforms like Amazon-owned Twitch and Google's YouTube Gaming, its mobile application also houses a small library of playable mobile titles. Facebook states Apple rejected the app multiple times, citing rules which prohibit apps with the "main purpose" of game distribution. The company has now removed those games from its iOS app, as reported by iMore, stripped to fundamental streaming and community features.

"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. "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."

Facebook Gaming

Source: Facebook (Image credit: Source: Facebook)

Microsoft recently spoke out over similar restrictions imposed on its Project xCloud game streaming technology, which sees the Xbox platform holder unable to reach iOS devices. While eyeing an Android debut on September 15, it tells Windows Central "we do not have a path to bring our vision of cloud gaming with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate to gamers on iOS via the Apple App Store."

Facebook Gaming's compromise is yet another twist in the ongoing App Store saga and Apple's policy over gaming services on its iOS platform. It comes amid mounting concerns of anti-competitive practices, accelerating conversations surrounding antitrust among top U.S. firms, with calls for change on the rise.

Matt Brown

Matt Brown was formerly a Windows Central's Senior Editor, Xbox & PC, at Future. Following over seven years of professional consumer technology and gaming coverage, he’s focused on the world of Microsoft's gaming efforts. You can follow him on Twitter @mattjbrown.

  • Forget about iOS and just focus on Android. Apple is too strict and needs to loosen up. Also, they limit iOS to just one phone as they don't license it to OEMs like Microsoft & Google do with their OS, so you don't have choices of iOS devices like you have with Android
  • And more importantly, they should focus on quality and content. Quality games with great performance. That is the key. Having access to iOS does not magically make you successful if your content is lacklustre.
    I always point to the Nintendo Switch as an example. Gamers will go to where the games are. Getting an additional device to enjoy games you want is really a non-issue. It is the games that will decide for you.
    The maximum resources and effort should go into building quality content and solid performance.
  • Microsoft already us the content and games on Game Pass. There’s no need to “focus” more on something that people generally agree is on their side with that.
  • Yes they have excellent games, but they can do even better. They need to bolster their 1st party portfolio. It needs to be elevated to the level of Sony and Nintendo (I know they are working on it). That's where the bulk of the resources should go. This iOS drama is just a distraction imho.
  • Are you serious we're talkin about Xbox live streaming hundreds of excellent games. Apple just wants to control it and be able to review every single game individually. And want a 30% cut of basically Xbox game pass ultimate. That's ridiculous when all they're doing is streaming the games. Xbox has many many many good quality high quality games better than anything that's in the IOS app store
  • Indeed, we desperately need more monopolies in tech!
  • Open source monopoly?