Apple has announced that apps will be able to stream games and mini-programs, without having to submit each title individually to the App Store. In practice, this makes it possible for cloud gaming services to work natively on the iPhone. Some examples of these services are Xbox Cloud Gaming (which is part of Xbox Game Pass Ultimate) and Nvidia Geforce Now. Until now, they had to run on the Safari browser.

“Today, Apple is introducing new options for how apps around the world can deliver experiences for users, including streaming games and mini-programs,” the statement said. “Developers can submit a single app, with the ability to stream all the games offered in their catalog.”

The news was announced on the same day as a series of changes to the App Store, the NFC of iPhones and the Safari engine. There is a difference between the two. The changes to the App Store, NFC and Safari are only valid for the European Union, as a way to adapt to the DMA, digital market legislation. The green light for game streaming, on the other hand, is global.

Game streaming on iPhone will have rules
The advisory also says that each app experience will need to follow the App Store Review Guidelines. In addition, the app will have the same age rating as the experience with a higher age range. For example, if a platform offers a single game for people over 18, the entire app will be suitable for ages 18 and up, even if other games are for audiences 17 and under.

Apple also says that mini-apps, mini-games, chatbots and plug-ins will be able to incorporate the company’s in-app purchase system to offer subscriptions and digital content. It would be a way for the company to make money from commissions in this market.

Apple has limited cloud gaming since 2020
This was a fight that started back in 2020, when the first cloud gaming initiatives were launched on the market and vetoed on the iPhone and iPad.

Apple’s argument was the difficulty of reviewing cloud games before releasing the app from the platform. The way forward would be to put each game on the App Store independently, which was considered unfeasible by Microsoft and Google (at that time Stadia still existed, remember?).

Microsoft felt that Apple was being tougher on games than it was on other content — after all, it didn’t review music, podcasts, TV shows, and movies, to name a few. The company found a way to circumvent the restrictions: Xbox Cloud Gaming was launched in 2021 for iPhone and iPad, with access through the Safari browser. Now, the service will be able to have its dedicated app on Apple phones and tablets.