Last week Apple announced a bunch of very specific changes to iOS and the App Store only for EU customers. Apple refers to these changes as risks that it has smartly tried to mitigate. Apple simply can’t guarantee the same consumer protections to customers in the EU, however, now that the Digital Markets Act is dictating the company’s policies.
As part of the same news drop, Apple announced a complete one-eighty on its App Store ban on streaming game services. This change is immediate, global, and seemingly not directly a result of the DMA. Why the sudden change of heart?
Why pivot now?
The most generous reading is that there may be some subscription revenue for Apple to tap into if it can convince these companies to offer in-app purchase. Not holding my breath.
Another possibility is Apple wanting to get ahead of the looming Department of Justice lawsuit or other regulatory pressure. Both the New York Times and Bloomberg have reported that the DOJ is likely to file against Apple in the first half of this year, specifically as early as March.
But Apple blocking or allowing Microsoft and Netflix game streaming services onto the App Store is small potatoes for the DOJ. They seem to be making a much larger case based on complaints by competitors to Apple Music, AirTags, iMessage, and general App Store policy.
Of course, the change could mean nothing at all. Maybe Apple decided cloud gaming in the browser was a bad look for iPhone and iPad hardware.
Cloud gaming perks
If you want a more exciting possibility, however, I have this to offer. What if Apple is planning to turn Arcade into a streaming game service? Allowing game streaming apps for Xbox and Nvidia services before making the change to Arcade would be wise.
Arcade would definitely benefit from supporting game streaming. Modern games take up a lot of space. Cloud gaming alleviates that as long as you have a network connection. Cloud gaming also lets you jump in and out of games to see what you like without installing full titles and managing storage.
Apple recently gave Arcade a price increase from $4.99 to $6.99 per month. The company cited a much larger catalog than when it was introduced in 2019. Arcade+ could be a higher tier subscription if Apple wanted to charge more for streaming.
The case against Arcade cloud gaming? Apple loves to use games as the ultimate showcase for how powerful new hardware is computationally and graphically.
Still, Apple loves recurring revenue and packing more into its services bundle. Arcade cloud gaming could even have exclusive titles that unlock a new class of games on Mac and Apple TV.
What do you think? Was the timing of Apple’s decision to suddenly allow cloud gaming apps odd? Or was Apple just getting ahead of even more regulatory pressure? Would Arcade cloud gaming encourage you to use the service? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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