Dec 26, 2011
So, here we are, two weeks later, and OnLive is still only on Android. It was announced to be released for iOS along with the Android version, but no real reason has been given as to the delay of the iOS version, beyond that Apple is still examining it for approval.
Without firsthand knowledge of the process, I can only assume that Apple is not likely to approve it because it will not fit their policies. See, OnLive’s client is all cloud-based; even the interface and menus to choose games are streamed from their servers. This also means that buying new games comes from operations occuring on their servers.
Apple likely has two problems with this. First is the fact that the OnLive could feature content that they themselves did not specifically approve; this may have been the ultimate issue with Big Fish’s subscription app that was available for a short while on the App Store before being pulled. The second, and more telling issue, is that Apple would not get their cut. See, Apple policies are as such where apps can now no longer sell content inside of an app unless they go through Apple’s in-app payment service, and Apple takes their 30% cut. For virtual currency, developers and publishers are willing to give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, but for sellers of subscription and physical goods, this is too large of a cut to surrender to Apple. As such, apps can now offer access to purchased content from outside the app, but they cannot specifically sell it inside the app. Kindle can’t sell books from within the app; Netflix can’t sell subscriptions from within their app. Likely, the issue here is that Apple doesn’t want to let OnLive sell games without them taking their pound of flesh.
Frankly, this is bunk. This is anti-consumer policy at its worst. This only benefits Apple, as this is holding up an app that many iPad owners would likely use, and one that Android owners are already getting to use, solely because of Apple’s policies. Presumably. This reasoning makes too much sense to not be true. The technology likely isn’t an issue; it’s largely just streaming video with occasional touch elements, with support for on-screen controls as well as an external wireless gamepad. Apple just wants control, and to make extra pennies off of anyone trying to do business on their store, not to provide the best experience to the user in this case.
The likely solution, if payment processing is an issue, would likely be that the iOS version of OnLive would only allow access to already-purchased games and trials of them. This would be a degraded user experience, especially compared to the fully-functional Android version (which supports Xbox controllers on devices with USB host functionality), for what are likely reasons only relating to Apple’s ham-handed control of the App Store.
Of course, I could be completely wrong and there was some other issue that kept it from being approved alongside the Android version. But this stinks of Apple’s anti-consumer App Store policies. It’s times like this when I truly appreciate the openness of Android – services can be free to operate properly without any interference from Google. It has its drawbacks at times, but it is times like these when it is a great strength. OnLive on, Androids!