It looks like Apple has shot down the Facebook Gaming app from being listed on the App Store yet again. This latest action just reinforces the impression that Apple is increasingly anti-competitive. Facebook’s app had been submitted several weeks ago but was rejected after Apple’s review process.
The New York Times reports that Apple’s rejection of the app does not surprise the Facebook team that submitted the app. They have been attempting to launch the Facebook Gaming app on the App Store since February. Since then Apple has rejected the app at least five times.
In contrast, Facebook did not encounter any resistance listing the app on Android. The app was launched on Google Play on 20 April 2020. Facebook initially intended to launch the app in June but it sped up its deployment with many people forced into quarantine around the world.
Facebook Gaming is described as a gaming-centric platform that allows its users to watch their favourite streamers, play instant games and take part in gaming groups.
One possible reason why Apple has rejected the app is the presence of games within the Facebook Gaming app. The New York Times article quotes people familiar with the matter that Apple is fixed on not allowing third-party apps to distribute games as a separate platform.
It is clear to see that Apple doesn’t want the presence of another platform within its App Store ecosystem that could compete its Apple Arcade game subscription service. Apple Arcade was launched back in September 2019.
Games are one of the most lucrative categories of mobile apps worldwide and it comes to no surprise that it is an important market Apple wants to corner for itself. It should be noted that Apple Arcade charges RM19.90/ month, whereas Facebook’s app does not.
A recent independent study that found the App Store ecosystem helped facilitate USD 519 billion in estimated billings and sales worldwide last year. Out of that total, USD 61 billion came from digital goods and services which included games.
The rejection of Facebook Gaming app comes at a time when Apple has been accused of anti-competitive behaviour. Developers have long complained of Apple’s restrictive App Store policies that include the mandatory use of its in-app purchase (IAP) system, of which Apple takes a 15-30% cut.
Recently Apple was targeted by the European Commission (EC) for potential breaches of European competition rules. It faces two anti-trust investigations that target Apple Pay and the App Store.