Former Apple App Store director Phil Shoemaker told the congressional antitrust committee that the Cupertino company uses its convoluted rules “as a weapon against competitors.”
Shoemaker mentioned the Cupertino firm’s “Apple Arcade” as evidence of this, as the company offers its own subscription gaming service while it bans similar services, like Xbox Game Pass.
Shoemaker said the company creates “arbitrary” rules that allow it to hinder or completely block competition to its own apps and services.
Business Insider found Shoemaker’s testimony in the 450-page report.
Apple’s iPhone and iPad App Store doesn’t allow subscription-based gaming services like Microsoft’s Xbox Game Pass and Google’s Stadia. The reason, according to former Apple App Store director Phil Shoemaker, is because “apps that compete against Apple’s services have a track record of problems getting through the App Store’s review process,” a new House antitrust report said.
Shoemaker pointed to Apple Arcade, Apple’s subscription-based gaming service, as a primary reason other game subscription services aren’t available for iPhone and iPad users.
“Apple’s gaming service, Apple Arcade, is a type of app that was ‘consistently disallowed from the store,’ when offered by third-party developers,” the report said, “but Apple allowed its own app in the store ‘even though it violates existing [App Store] guidelines”
Shoemaker said the company implements “arbitrary” and “arguable” App Store approval guidelines, and uses its control of the App Store “as a weapon against competitors.”
Apple does offer a way for subscription gaming services to be included in the App Store. Such apps must submit each game to be included in a subscription individually to the App Store for approval. Subscription gaming service GameClub takes this approach and is allowed in the App Store.
It should also be noted that GameClub offers its subscriptions as an in-app purchase, meaning Apple takes a 30% cut of the action the first year of a subscription, and 15% thereafter.
Shoemaker told the committee that the requirement to have each app individually reviewed is an example of how Apple “hinders” competitors. He also said Apple makes arbitrary decisions, treating game content differently from services that offer video and audio content.
Given that Apple allows services like Netflix and Spotify without reviewing every piece of content, why not allow a similar service for gaming?
Apple maintains that movies and music are different from games, because games are interactive, leading to different expectations from consumers.