Valve announced on May 9th that it would release a video game streaming app called Steam Link. According to Valve, that announcement was made after the app was approved by Apple’s App Review team. As we reported Friday, Valve says that App Review reversed its decision the next day, rejecting the app for what Valve describe as ‘business conflicts with app guidelines.’
Steam Link is an app designed to allow users to stream Steam games from a Mac or PC to an iOS device or Apple TV over fast WiFi or Ethernet. Valve appealed the rejection on the basis that it was similar to other LAN-based remote desktop apps available on the App Store, but the appeal was denied. That led some people to question whether Apple’s rejection was motivated by a desire to protect gaming on iOS devices and the Apple TV.
We now have a better idea of the reasons behind the Steam Link rejection thanks to an email message from Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing, to a MacStories reader, the authenticity of which we have verified.
The reader, who asked to remain anonymous, wrote to Schiller asking that Apple reconsider the rejection. In response Schiller said:
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.
Without having tried the app, it’s impossible to know precisely what aspect of the App Review Guidelines Apple concluded Steam Link violated, but Guideline 1.2, requires apps with user-generated content to have a way to filter objectionable content and remove offensive material, for example. In-App Purchases are another area with specific guidelines, many of which apply to games, in-game currencies, loot boxes, level unlocking, and more. Guideline 3.1.4 also forbids apps from using their own mechanisms to unlock content or functionality.
Although it’s disappointing that Steam Link was rejected, it appears from Schiller’s message to our reader that there was more going on in the app than just streaming games from a PC or Mac. The guidelines that Schiller says were violated are not new, but with only the Steam Mobile app on the App Store, Valve probably hasn’t had to address user-generated content or game-specific guidelines in the past. Hopefully, the two companies can find a way to resolve the issues that satisfies the guidelines and allows Valve to provide its users with a way to enjoy their Steam games on iOS and tvOS.