Apple Fires Back at Valve, Claiming Steam Link Violated App Guidelines

Apple's Senior VP of Marketing Phil Schiller takes aim at Valve in new statement, claiming Steam Link violated App Store guidelines.

It seems like the feud between Apple and Valve is only just heating up. Following an official delay into the iOS version of Valve’s Steam Link, the company blamed Apple for blocking approval. Not wanting to receive the brunt of loyalists’ ire, Apple’s Senior VP of Marketing responded to emails about the conflict. Notably, he states that Valve did not follow guidelines required of all apps on the iOS App Store.

Reddit user BeefMaggins (as well as other’s on the internet) received an email from Apple’s Senior Vice President of Marketing, Phil Schiller. In the email, Schiller gives a different account of the Steam Link approval, claiming Valve failed to follow guidelines:

We care deeply about bringing great games to all of our users on the App Store. We would love for Valve’s games and services to be on iOS and AppleTV.

Unfortunately, the review team found that Valve’s Steam iOS app, as currently submitted, violates a number of guidelines around user generated content, in-app purchases, content codes, etc. We’ve discussed these issues with Valve and will continue to work with them to help bring the Steam experience to iOS and AppleTV in a way that complies with the store’s guidelines.

We put great effort into creating an App Store that provides the very best experience for everyone. We have clear guidelines that all developers must follow in order to ensure the App Store is a safe place for all users and a fair opportunity for all developers.

On one side, this may be good news. While it may merely be PR-speak, Schiller does say Apple is willing to cooperate to get Steam Link on iOS. However, hiding behind opaque and unspecific guidelines doesn’t help point to what Valve did wrong (if anything).

Currently, the App Store guidelines prohibit the following:

  • Overtly sexual or pornographic material
  • Unrestricted user-generated content
  • Creating an interface for displaying third-party apps similar to the App Store

What is even more confusing is that Valve’s original application for the Steam Link was initially approved by Apple. According to Valve’s statement (below), Apple denied the app’s approval two days later. Although Valve noted “business conflicts” as the noted reason, we still don’t know exactly what those conflicts are.

Moving away from fact and into speculation, we can start taking guesses. Of course, the guideline problems could be something mundane or technical. On the other end, Apple may not be overly thrilled with a competing marketplace on their App Store (without compensation). Or, perhaps, Apple had qualms with mature rated content available over Steam’s platform. This may explain the unprovoked moves from Valve earlier this month to remove mature content.

For those not following, in early May Valve revealed Steam Link — a mobile streaming service for Steam games. Using this dedicated app on iOS and Android devices, players would be able to play Steam games via their iPhone, Apple TV, and more. While Valve initially promised a May 21 release for the iOS version, the date came-and-went with no unveiling. Valve was quick to shift the blame to Apple while keeping the door open for further talks.

It is unclear whether Steam Link will ever make the jump to iOS devices. However, anyone with an Android phone or Smart TV can grab the app in beta now. For those looking to join in on mobile fun, Valve’s Steam Controller is available via Amazon.

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Lou Contaldi

Lou Contaldi specializes in both reviews and the business behind gaming. He began writing about tech and video games while getting his Juris Doctor at Hofstra University School of Law. He is maybe the only gaming journo based in Nashville, TN.

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