The Facebook Gaming app—which allows players to livestream and features games like "Grand Theft Auto," "Minecraft" and "Fortnite"—officially launched on the App Store on Friday but is missing some notable features (namely: games) due to Apple's strict policies, Facebook told FOX Business.
"Gaming brings people together. And that’s even more important today amidst the pandemic," Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg wrote. "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."
Sandberg added that Facebook is "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."
Apple did not immediately respond to an inquiry from FOX Business.
Facebook launched its gaming app in April on Google Play. The social media company said it planned to launch the app on iOS devices at the same time but Apple rejected the app six times.
Apple cited its App Store guidelines, which state that an app can run games as long as playing games is not the "main purpose" of the app, as the reason behind its rejections. Facebook argues that playing games is not the main purpose of its app, and 95 percent on Android users use the app for watching live streams.
Facebook also made a formal appeal through Apple's new system that allows developers to "appeal decisions about whether an app violates a given guideline" or appeal a guideline itself," according to a June 22 blog post. Apple never responded to the appeal, Facebook said.
The social media site decided to launch the app without games to be transparent about its troubles with Apple. Sandberg's comments come just days after Microsoft issued a statement saying it could not release its cloud-based gaming app, Cloudx, on the App Store for similar reasons, saying Apple "consistently treats gaming apps differently."
Apple CEO Tim Cook testified at an antitrust hearing last week and defended the company's App Store practices, which have come under fire for being anticompetitive. Cook said in his opening statement that the App Store "hosts more than 1.7 million [apps] -- only 60 of which are Apple software.”
“Clearly, if Apple is a gatekeeper, what we have done is open the gate wider," Cook wrote. "We want to get every app we can on the store, not keep them off.”