Apple reportedly won't allow Facebook's new gaming app on the iPhone

Apple reportedly won't allow Facebook's new gaming app on the iPhone
Apple CEO Tim Cook.Axios on HBO/YouTube
  • Apple's App Store is a powerhouse, and that's because it's the only way to access apps on Apple's iPhone and iPad.
  • The company's longstanding policy with app store purchases is that it takes a 15 - 30% cut – a policy that has occasionally put Apple at odds with app developers and government regulators.
  • The latest such example comes from Facebook: A new gaming app from Facebook has reportedly been rejected by Apple at least five times, specifically because the app acts as a distribution service for games.

Facebook can't get a major new app approved by Apple, according to a new report in The New York Times.

The reason? The new app, Facebook Gaming, offers users access to casual games. And that access is outside the bounds of Apple's own storefront, the iOS App Store.

The app has reportedly been rejected five times by Apple, specifically due to "rules that prohibit apps with the 'main purpose' of distributing casual games."

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Notably, the Facebook Gaming app isn't intended as a new storefront for smartphone game sales. Instead, it primarily focuses on the ability to stream games directly to Facebook, and to watch other streamers — a Twitch competitor more than anything else.

The app is currently available on Google's Android app store.


The limited selection of games available on the Facebook Gaming app are casual in nature. The biggest "names" among them are "Words with Friends" and "Uno."

But the nature itself of Facebook Gaming's game section is reportedly in contention here, not what's on offer.

Apple reportedly won't allow Facebook's new gaming app on the iPhone
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Apple's App Store is the only way to access apps on the iPhone and iPad, and Apple takes a 15-30% cut of everything sold on the App Store, per its website.

If Facebook Gaming offers a way for iPhone and iPad users to access a storefront owned and operated by Facebook, within but outside of Apple's ecosystem, that potentially cuts Apple out of the equation.


Moreover, the type of games that Facebook Gaming offers access to are the bread and butter of Apple's App Store: extremely casual fare like the aforementioned "Words with Friends" and "Uno." Notably, gaming is the primary revenue driver for the App Store.

This is far from the first time Apple has come under fire for its App Store policies and the cut it takes from app makers.

A similar situation happened earlier this week, with an email app developer publicly calling out Apple's policy.

"Apple just doubled down on their rejection of Hey's ability to provide bug fixes and new features, unless we submit to their outrageous demand of 15-30% of our revenue," David Heinemeier Hansson, CTO and cofounder of Basecamp, said on Twitter. "We're told that unless we comply, they'll remove the app," he wrote.

In rejecting updates to Hey, Apple reportedly cited Section 3.1.1 of the App Store guidelines, which say that app developers must use Apple's in-app payment system if they offer paid services. Those guidelines are regularly circumvented by a variety of different apps on Apple's digital storefront, such as Netflix and Spotify offering access to paid versions of their services that weren't purchased through Apple's App Store.


Apple has yet to comment on the report, and a Facebook spokesperson declined to comment.