Fast Charge: The iPhone 12 has an Epic problem

5 minutes

The iPhone 12’s rumoured release date is fast approaching, and while all reports suggest it’ll be a huge leap forward technologically, for me personally it won’t fix the phone line’s biggest problem at the moment: Apple’s outdated approach to mobile gaming.


Even a few years ago this would have been heresy to say, and factually incorrect. But the fact is, for the first time in ages, it looks like Apple’s going to be on the wrong side of history when it comes to technological innovation, thanks to its insistence on following a slightly archaic app store model.

For those out of the know, I’m referring to its ongoing policy of blocking any app that doesn’t give it a direct cut of the profits on the App Store. Apple isn’t alone in this, but it is uniquely harsh when it comes to streaming services and games that feature in-app purchases or are based on libraries outside of Apple’s walled garden.

This is the reason Epic games is currently in a very public spat with Apple and Fortnite is currently not available on the App Store. It’s also why Stadia, GeForce Now and xCloud aren’t there. If you don’t pay rent you’re not allowed in Apple’s digital shopping centre, simple as that.

Whether that’s fair or not is being decided by judges as we speak. But whichever side you fall on, there’s not getting round the fact that, as it stands, the argument is hurting iOS and iPad OS’ games offering.

In the current climate it means gamers can’t take advantage of new streaming services the way they can on Android. For the short term this isn’t that big of a deal for Apple. It makes more than enough moola off the apps that are there.

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But in my mind it could be a key problem down the line if the situation continues. This is because, while traditional direct sales will always be a thing in gaming, I can’t help but think streaming will be the platform’s future.

Think about what happened with DVDs vs Netflix, CDs vs Spotify. Every time consumers have been offered an easy streaming subscription service as an alternative to traditional direct sales – both physical and digital – consumers have drifted towards the primary. And why not? The fact is, if network speeds are fast enough and the quality is acceptable, streaming from a central library is much, much easier.

Debatably, the only reason gaming hasn’t followed the same pattern sooner is down to technological issues around data speeds and latency, rather than a lack of interest. But with 5G now rolling out in most territories these issues are largely now solved on mobile.

Microsoft, Nvidia, Google and now Amazon are all jumping at the opportunity on Android and Windows as we speak, with GeForce Now and xCloud in particular impressing the team at Trusted Reviews. Hell, even Sony’s trying to get involved with its PS5 and PlayStation Now service, because it knows consumer gaming habits will eventually shit towards streaming and subscription models. Which is why I’m so surprised Apple hasn’t noticed this and is belligerent avoiding joining the revolution sooner rather than later with the iPhone 12. The iPhone 12 is forecast to be Apple’s first 5G phone, making it the ideal launch point for game streaming on iOS.

But instead of doing the right thing for users, Apple seems to be sitting in a halfway house offering a local subscription service via Apple Arcade, and weird workarounds for competing streaming services where companies need to either offer them as web apps through the browser or load games on a per title basis as shell apps. Both are very awkward solutions that aren’t going to win gamers over when what’s on other stores is much more developed.

Which is why I think the iPhone 12 won’t fix Apple’s biggest problem in the mobile market.

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Source: The Inquirer – Fast Charge: The iPhone 12 has an Epic problem