After months of fighting with Apple, Facebook is launching its gaming app on iOS — without any games
- Facebook is launching its Facebook Gaming app on iOS, four months after it launched on Android.
- Although the app is primarily for streaming games, it has a small component which allows users to play casual games like "Words with Friends." Facebook has had to remove this feature to comply with Apple's App Store rules.
- Facebook said Apple rejected its app six times since April, and ignored an official appeal.
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Facebook has just launched its Facebook Gaming app on iOS after months of wrangling with Apple, with just one small catch - the app won't contain any games.
"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," COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement.
Facebook Gaming has already been available to Android users since April. The app is primarily for livestreaming video games, and was touted as a rival to streaming service Twitch. A smaller part of the app allows users to play casual games like "Words with Friends" and "Uno."
Instant games proved to be a huge problem getting the app approved for Apple's App Store, which has strict rules prohibiting apps from distributing games from their own storefronts.
The New York Times reported in June that Facebook had been through a painful process trying and failing to get Apple to let Facebook Gaming on the App Store since February.
"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," Sandberg added.
A Facebook spokesman told Business Insider the app has been rejected from the App Store roughly six times since April, and that the company tried to appeal the decision on the basis that Facebook Gaming's primary purpose is streaming rather than game distribution.
Facebook never received a response from Apple about its appeal, per the spokesman.
Facebook's VP of Facebook Gaming Vivek Sharma took aim at Apple's rules over distributing games more broadly.
"Even on the main Facebook app and Messenger, we've been forced to bury instant games for years on iOS," he said.
"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. And while it's disheartening to deliver only part of the Facebook Gaming app experience on iOS, our gaming creators have asked for it for awhile. We thank them for waiting this long," Sharma added.
Apple was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Business Insider.
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