Ex-App Store head: Game streaming services can’t launch on iOS because of Apple Arcade

Philip Shoemaker, Apple’s former head of the App Store, told the US House of Representatives as part of its antitrust investigation into Apple’s business practices that the company does in fact reject subscription game-streaming services because they compete with Apple Arcade.

First spotted by Business Insider, Shoemaker’s testimony alleges that Apple has weaponized the App Store against competitors when it comes to game-streaming services.

Apple has struggled with using the App Store as a weapon against competitors. Apple has complete and unprecedented power over their customers’ devices. The decisions they make with regards to third-party apps needs to be above reproach, and currently are not.

He said Apple’s been dishonest by repeatedly claiming that it treats all developers the same, calling the App Store rules both “arbitrary” and “arguable.” An Apple representative told BusinessInsider that the company will defend itself in more detail in the coming days.

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The quote is pulled from this week’s antitrust report, put together by the House antitrust subcommittee, which focused on Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google, proposing their breakups. All four technology giants rebuked the report, here’s Apple’s response:

We have always said that scrutiny is reasonable and appropriate but we vehemently disagree with the conclusions reached in this staff report with respect to Apple. Our company does not have a dominant market share in any category where we do business. From its beginnings 12 years ago with just 500 apps, we’ve built the App Store to be a safe and trusted place for users to discover and download apps and a supportive way for developers to create and sell apps globally. Hosting close to two million apps today, the App Store has delivered on that promise and met the highest standards for privacy, security and quality. The App Store has enabled new markets, new services and new products that were unimaginable a dozen years ago, and developers have been primary beneficiaries of this ecosystem. Last year in the United States alone, the App Store facilitated $138 billion in commerce with over 85 percent of that amount accruing solely to third-party developers. Apple’s commission rates are firmly in the mainstream of those charged by other app stores and gaming marketplaces. Competition drives innovation, and innovation has always defined us at Apple. We work tirelessly to deliver the best products to our customers, with safety and privacy at their core, and we will continue to do so.

Meanwhile, Microsoft’s new Xbox app on Android supports remote play from its Xbox console to Android handsets and Microsoft is trying to bring the feature to iOS devices, too. Don’t confuse remote play with true game streaming. With remote play, you’re basically stream games from your game console to your iPhone or iPad via your home wireless network.

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A true game-streaming service, such as Microsoft’s xCloud, offloads all CPU and GPU processing to remote servers which treat your device as a thin client. Your device only sends your input to the server and deciphers the resulting video stream and displays it on the screen. As a result, graphics quality and frame rates are mostly similar to that of the console game.

Apple is clearly afraid that competing game-streaming service may dampen consumer enthusiasm for Appel Arcade, which costs five bucks per month. By c comparison, xCloud is pricier than Apple Arcade because you can only get it as part of the Xbox Game Pass Ultimate plan for $15 per month.

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Both service host 100+ games, with xCloud home to some of the best console titles available on the Xbox, like Forza Horizon 4. So why would a gaming fan subscribe to Apple Arcade when they could pay a bit more in order to play console-quality, rich, deep games without actually installing anything (the only requirement being that they have a strong network connection)?

That’s what Apple is afraid of, in my opinion.