The former Apple App Store head told the congressional antitrust committee that the Cupertino company uses its convoluted rules ‘as a weapon against competitors.’ He cited Apple Arcade as evidence of this, the company allowing its own subscription gaming service when it bans things like Xbox Game Pass.
Former App Store director Phil Shoemaker said that Apple creates ‘arbitrary’ rules which allow it to block or hinder unwanted competitors to its own apps and services …
It should be noted that Apple does offer a workaround: apps which want to offer access to a catalog of games can do so provided that each individual game within the subscription is submitted to the App Store for approval. This is the approach taken by GameClub, for example, which Apple does allow into the store.
However, GameClub also offers its subscription as an in-app purchase.
This means Apple takes its 30% cut in the first year, and 15% thereafter. The requirement to have each app individually approved is an example of what Shoemaker means by hindering competitors. Treating games differently to other downloadable content is also arbitrary, he argues.
Apple says that games are different to movies and music because they are interactive, and consumers have different expectations. How the company justifies that stance remains to be seen: we’re expecting a more detailed Apple response to the antitrust report ‘in the coming days.’ Having its own former App Store head give evidence against it certainly doesn’t help the company make its case.
Microsoft has said that it expects to reach ‘some resolution‘ to the problem for Xbox Game Pass, and it’s believed this might amount to reluctantly submitting each individual game for review.