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UK may force Apple to allow Xbox cloud gaming and others onto App Store

Apple has made it difficult for cloud gaming services to take up residency on the App Store and now the UK government wants to know why, and whether that’s fair.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) plans to investigate how Apple has prevented the likes of the Xbox Game Pass from taking up residence on the the App Store.

Microsoft has got around this by hosting its cloud gaming service via the web browser, but it’s hardly an ideal situation for users.

It’s not great for Microsoft either, who were told by Apple each game in the library would need to be submitted for review independently in order to bring Game Pass to the App Store. The likes of Meta and Amazon have also dealt with the same restrictions for their own cloud gaming services.

In a press release today, the CMA said it had heard the complaints of the stakeholders in cloud gaming sector, and plans to investigate whether legally binding changes need to be made.

The CMA wrote: “Apple has also blocked the emergence of cloud gaming services on its App Store. Like web apps, cloud gaming services are a developing innovation, providing mobile access to high-quality games that can be streamed rather than individually downloaded. Gaming apps are a key source of revenue for Apple and cloud gaming could pose a real threat to Apple’s strong position in app distribution. By preventing this sector from growing, Apple risks causing mobile users to miss out on the full benefits of cloud gaming.

“During its market study, the CMA heard concerns from a number of UK businesses and start-ups who said that the restrictions in relation to mobile browsers and cloud gaming make it harder for them to innovate and compete in these markets.

“The proposed market investigation will further assess the competition concerns identified to date in both areas and decide what, if any, action is appropriate. This could include making legally binding orders requiring changes to be made to Apple’s and Google’s practices.”

Today’s release comes following a year-long study of both Apple and Google’s mobile ecosystem and the potential harm this ‘duopoly’ does to competition in the UK. It believes that interventions may be required to prevent the two firms strengthening the grip.

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