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UK regulator prepares to restart Apple cloud gaming probe in January

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The UK's Competition and Markets Authority will be restarting its investigation into the cloud gaming market on January 24, after Apple failed to win its appeal against the probe in November.

In November, London's Court of Appeal overturned a ruling that blocked the regulator from carrying out its Browser and Cloud Gaming Market Investigation.

The investigation, which focuses in part on Apple's alleged choice to restrict cloud gaming apps in the App Store, is now set to reopen in the new year, starting from January 24.

After the Court of Appeal's decision on November 30, it was determined that the investigation would be suspended until the permission to appeal had been confirmed, followed by another 21-day pause. The CMA decided that, with no appeal in place and the time elapsed, it would return to its investigation in January.

"This ruling gives the CMA the backing it needs to protect consumers and promote competition in UK," said CMA chief executive Sarah Cardell. "As this judgment clearly states, the previous ruling by the CAT would have had serious consequences' for the CMA's ability to investigate potential breaches of the law."

Cardell continued "We launched this investigation over a year ago in order to make sure that UK consumers get the best services and apps on their mobile phones, and that UK developers can invest in innovative new apps. We stand ready to reopen it when the legal process is complete."

The probe continues

The Browser and Cloud Gaming Market Investigation is an examination into the mobile ecosystem, specifically examining mobile browsers and mobile browser engines. It is also tasked with looking at cloud gaming services on mobile devices.

The latter cloud gaming element may be a problem for Apple, as it has policies in place that some may consider harmful to cloud gaming services in general.

Apple's rules effectively ban cloud gaming apps that would run on a Netflix-of-gaming sort of model, namely one app that all games are streamed through.

Instead, Apple does allow for games to be streamed, but individually instead of through a store-like central app. That means each cloud-gaming-enabled game would have to be listed in the App Store separately, and each must pass through the App Store Review process.

Apple has previously said games pose "real and novel risks from a security/privacy perspective" that streaming video services don't have. The counter-argument is that individually listing games requires more work and resources to accomplish, and raises the barrier for entry for services.

Cloud gaming services certainly exist on iOS, but they avoid the App Store entirely. Instead, they rely on a browser-based interface that's separate from the App Store experience, and without the benefits of having a native app available to use.