…there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store…

Apple’s new guidelines (link to developer.apple.com) focus heavily on streaming game services and formalize the expectations for these services

Origin: 9 to 5 Mac • Apple’s new App Store guidelines address streaming game services, in-app purchases

Streaming games are permitted so long as they adhere to all guidelines — for example, each game update must be submitted for review, developers must provide appropriate metadata for search, games must use in-app purchase to unlock features or functionality, etc. Of course, there is always the open Internet and web browser apps to reach all users outside of the App Store.

Apple says:

  • Each streaming game must be submitted to the App Store as an individual app so that it has an App Store product page, appears in charts and search, has user ratings and review, can be managed with ScreenTime and other parental control apps, appears on the userʼs device, etc.
  • Streaming game services may offer a catalog app on the App Store to help users sign up for the service and find the games on the App Store, provided that the app adheres to all guidelines, including offering users the option to pay for a subscription with in-app purchase and use Sign in with Apple. All the games included in the catalog app must link to an individual App Store product page.

The new guidelines formalize Apple’s requirements for the streaming game category and offer a path for companies like Microsoft and Google to bring their services to the iOS ecosystem, albeit with the requirement that the in-app purchase system is used.

While details here are still a bit murky, it seems that the game you download from the App Store can essentially be a “wrapper” and the actual game is streamed over your internet connection. Essentially, you would download the “game” from the App Store, sign in with an existing account or sign up using Apple’s in-app purchase system, then play the game from the company’s servers.