After initially approving Steam Link’s iOS app, Apple has revoked its approval for the app to appear on the App Store, leaving the software’s iOS release now in jeopardy.
Steam Link is a technology that allows you to stream your Steam games from your gaming PC to another device. In the past this has been limited to lower-powered machines, the dedicated Steam Link set-top box, and Samsung TVs, but recently Valve announced that the functionality would also be coming to mobile phones.
The Android version of the software released without issue last week, and we all assumed that the iOS release was just around the corner.
Now however, Valve has announced the reason for the delay, and has suggested that the software might never come to iOS devices.
Apparently, at the time of the initial announcement, Valve had received approval from Apple to release the software on the App Store. However, the next morning Apple mysteriously revoked this approval, citing concerns around business conflicts.
In its statement, Valve notes that there are “numerous remote desktop applications already available on the App Store” and that it considers the Steam Link app to be no different. Apple, it seems, does not agree, and has denied Valve’s appeal.
Unpacking the ‘business conflicts’
Apple has not yet provided an expanded explanation for its decision, so at the moment we can only speculate as to what exactly these business conflicts could be.
Although Valve argues that the Steam Link app is little more than a “remote desktop application”, being able to boot up and play specific games puts it in a different league, and means that it has the potential to conflict and compete with dedicated App Store games.
Valve isn’t the only publisher to have experienced problems with Apple’s App Store policies. When it comes to Amazon Prime Video (which allows you to rent and buy movies and TV shows through the service) you’re currently unable to complete this transaction via the app itself.
Instead, you have to buy the title elsewhere before you can stream it using the app. The reason? It’s understood that Amazon doesn’t want to pay the commission that an in-app transaction would require.
However, in this case Apple appears to have an issue with external games being played at all, regardless of where they’re purchased.
Perhaps then the reason has more to do with the kinds of content available on the Steam store. In recent months we’ve seen controversies about certain games, such as a school shooting simulator, raise concerns about Valve’s store policies.
In contrast, Apple has a much more locked down approach, which might explain its unwillingness to let Steam games be streamed to its devices and played as though they were native titles.
Apple declined a request to comment.
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