Earlier this month, Netflix officially launched into gaming by rolling out a mobile gaming service for Android users. While Netflix says it runs on an iOS version of the service, Bloomberg Tech reporter Mark Gurman said Apple’s App Store policies will prevent Netflix from making games available from its app.
Apple bans third-party apps from functioning as a gaming hub, which has become a point of contention with cloud gaming services like Xbox Cloud Gaming, Nvidia GeForce Now, and Google Stadia. Cloud gaming services can only get around this problem by offering their games through a web app, just like Facebook has done before.
According to Gurman’s latest Light up newsletter, Netflix will tiptoe around Apple’s rules by making its games available through the App Store. This means that the games will not be downloadable or playable from the Netflix app – you will only be able to launch them from there. The service currently works this way on Android; the games are neatly packaged in a dedicated tab on the Netflix app, but are downloaded individually from the Google Play Store.
While this setup is fine, it is not ideal for an all-in-one gaming service. Users should be able to download and play games from the service itself. This is why Gurman predicts that Netflix will eventually bring its games to the cloud. Again, this would work well for Android, but Apple’s policies make it nearly impossible to develop cloud games, forcing services to settle for miserable web apps. If and when Netflix decides to embrace cloud gaming, it’s unclear what will happen to the service on iOS.
“Apple will have to change its rules or give Netflix an exemption,” Gurman said. “This leaves the ultimate success of Netflix’s service in the hands of Apple, a long-time partner but also a growing rival.”