At the end of 2020 a legal battle emerged between two big tech names, Apple, and Epic Games. Both locked horns following the removal of the popular Epic Games title of Fortnite from the app store after a breach of contract – the developers had included a link to a third-party payment option that allowed Epic Games to allow the purchase of the in-game currency, v-bucks, whilst avoiding the 30% tax that is charged through the app marketplace, and the legal battle followed.
Epics argument had been that Apple holds a monopoly, all apps have to be approved and work through the app store in order to be accessible by users, the opposite side argued that this had all been for player safety to ensure that nothing would be out of the ordinary from these services – the 30% tax charged wasn’t abnormal either, it is common across the other app marketplaces such as the Google Play store.
A ruling had recently been made, however, with the judge declaring that whilst Apple didn’t hold a monopoly, the behaviour was anti-competitive and that change was needed – the same ruling also stated that developers would now be able to include third-party links and buttons for payment options, essentially offering a work around to this 30% tax and opening a whole new opportunity for apps.
Those who look to benefit most will be the services that had a bigger reliance on accepting payments as part of the playing option, most notably with the likes of online casinos which have been growing due to changing regulation in many states as these WV online casinos may now be able to have dedicated apps rather than relying on websites, but also means that smaller developers which had been subject to this higher rate would also struggle to turn a profit as a huge amount was being taken by the platform.
Apple have yet to appeal this decision, but it is something that they may look to do moving forward – having already lowered this levy to 15% way back in January for some smaller businesses, but if they decide to run the course then its expected that other app marketplaces that operate in the same way will have to follow too. It’s a very unique opportunity for app developers and one that will certainly see the availability of certain game genres become expanded and offer a new market as a whole.
For Epics side, they didn’t get off completely free after being ordered to pay a large sum in damages, but CEO Tim Sweeney has stated that he’s committed to continuing the fight to ensure that these platforms operate in a much fairer way.