Facebook is launching its Gaming app for iOS but has had to remove the feature of mini games from the app in order to pass Apple's strict App Store approval process. The company is not happy about the compromise and has joined Microsoft in condemning Apple's App Store policies.
Facebook's chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, explained in a press statement that they had to remove the gameplay functionality entirely which would affect iOS users' experience. The social media company states that its Gaming app has been rejected by Apple several times in the past few months.
Apple has cited App Store guideline 4.7 to justify the rejections and claimed that the primary purpose of the Gaming app was to play games. Facebook stressed on the fact that usage data from its Android Facebook Gaming app showed that 95% of the activity on the app is watching streams, however, Apple still remained firm on its stance.
Apple also has an appeal process for situations like this, but Facebook said that it failed to convince Apple even after its attempt for an appeal. A Facebook spokesperson revealed that the company did not receive any response from Apple after appealing the guideline under the new app review process.
Left with no other option, Facebook has been forced to give up, hence removing its entire game functionality from the app that is being launched on iOS. While the primary purpose of Facebook's Gaming app is to watch streams of games, the app also includes a variety of mini games from Facebook's Instant Games platforms, and apparently that is what Apple has an issue with.
This is, however, not the first time that Facebook has had to deal with issues from Apple's App Store. The social media company faced similar problems in relation to the main Facebook app and Messenger, where they were compelled to bury Instant Games for years on iOS.
Facebook Gaming chief, Vivak Sharma, explained that such a decision affects the games industry and players, and hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats such as cloud gaming.
Apple, on the other hand, is facing criticism from rivals and the gaming industry to loosen its strict guidelines. The company forced Microsoft in the recent week to cut its xCloud iOS testing after months of not allowing Microsoft to launch its app, followed by Microsoft's condemnation of Apple.
Another recent App Store excuse that Apple presented was after its battle over the new Hey email app. Apple initially rejected the app and then eventually approved it after it received widespread condemnation from lawmakers and developers. The EU has even started a formal antitrust investigation into Apple's App Store and Apple Pay practices.
It looks like Apple is going to face even more criticism in the near future as Microsoft and Facebook have recently openly condemned the company.