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Facebook finally launches Facebook Gaming on iOS -- without Instant Games

Platform condemns Apple's strict approval process, saying it "severely hamstrings innovation on mobile"

Facebook has finally launched its Facebook Gaming app on iOS, but there's a catch -- none of its Instant Games are playable on it like they are on Android.

According to Facebook, the platform was unable to get the app approved with Instant Games attached due to the App Store's strict policies . "Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple's approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app - meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android," said Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg in a statement.

"We're staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month - whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not."

Apple has repeatedly rejected the Facebook Gaming app on these grounds in the past, citing (per Facebook on Twitter) that the primary purpose of the Facebook Gaming app is to play games.

Facebook contested this, it says, noting that 95% of its app activity on Android is watching livestreams.

"Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we've been forced to bury Instant Games for years on iOS," said Facebook Gaming chief Vivek Sharma to The Verge.

"This is shared pain across the games industry, which ultimately hurts players and devs and severely hamstrings innovation on mobile for other types of formats, like cloud gaming."

In fact, this exact problem is currently also troubling Microsoft, which has been unable to continue offering its Project xCloud game streaming service on iOS for the same reason.

Responding to concerns about Microsoft, an Apple spokesperson told Business Insider: "Gaming services can absolutely launch on the App Store as long as they follow the same set of guidelines applicable to all developers, including submitting games individually for review, and appearing in charts and search."

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Rebekah Valentine avatar

Rebekah Valentine

Senior Staff Writer

Rebekah arrived at GamesIndustry in 2018 after four years of freelance writing and editing across multiple gaming and tech sites. When she's not recreating video game foods in a real life kitchen, she's happily imagining herself as an Animal Crossing character.