Finally, Facebook Gaming app launches on iOS without games

After months of trying to get its Facebook Gaming app approved on iOS, the social network giant is finally launching the app for the iPhone and iPad without mini-games. Facebook had to remove gameplay functionality in order to get approval for the App Store due to Apple’s restrictive rules. Consequently, the iOS app’s features will be restricted to game streams and social functions.

Many of the company’s employees are not happy with the change that had to be made for Facebook Gaming app for iOS and spoke out against Apple’s unfair App Store policies.

The app is designed for multiple gaming purposes: watch, play, and connect. However, unlike the Android version, the iOS version of the app is restricted to streaming services only. The Android description of the app reads:

“Facebook Gaming welcomes you to a new world of play. Share in the joy and fun of rooting for top streamers as they play the world’s biggest games.
Here, you can play games instantly, and join groups centered around everything you are interested The ways to have fun are countless. Find yours.”

Facebook gaming

Modified Facebook Gaming app on the App Store

The company finally decided to release the iOS version of the app after repeatedly getting rejected by Apple over its mini-games. Facebook had planned to launch the iOS app at the same time as it released the Facebook Gaming app on Android in April. Apple claimed that the games’ distribution design violates its App Store’s policy rule 4.7.

Facebook is not happy with the compromise and critical of Cupertino tech giant’s restrictive rules. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer, Sheryl Sandberg told  The Verge:

“Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app — meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android. We’re staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month — whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not.”

Facebook Gaming

Facebook tried to convince Apple that 95 percent of app activity on Android is from hosting and watching game streams and not from the games which are on the platform. The company also appealed to the guideline under the new app review process announced at WWDC but received no response. Today, Facebook launched its iOS gaming app without any of the mini-games that can be found of the Android version.

This is not the first time that Apple is facing criticism for its App Store policies. In a statement to The Verge, Facebook Gaming’s Chief, Vivek Sharma said:

“Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we’ve been forced to bury Instant Games for years on iOS,”  “This is shared pain across the games industry, which ultimately hurts players and devs and severely hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats, like cloud gaming.”

The critique could not have come at a worse time for Apple. The company is currently facing another antitrust probe over a price-fixing agreement with Amazon, allegations of anti-competitive behavior, and a formal antitrust investigation by the EU for its App Store and Apple Pay practices. Apple has categorically denied all accusations. 

About the Author

Mobile gaming editor for iThinkDifferent