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Epic v. Apple court case continues to benefit mobile game developers

May 16, 2023
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The Clash of the Titans continues! As you may have heard, another key decision was recently handed down in the Epic Games v. Apple court case. While Apple has claimed this latest ruling as a victory, one crucial component of the sole judgment against Apple highlights enormous potential for game developers and publishers. First, a quick refresher on the situation: Epic Games sued Apple in August 2020, alleging that Apple’s App Store policies were unfair and anti-competitive, and cited their 30% revenue cut as an unfair “tax” for the use of the App Store. In the first ruling on the case from September 2021, the court found in favor of Apple on 9 of the 10 counts. However, the one ruling against Apple was critical for any game publisher or developer seeking to use a third-party payment option for games in the App Store. The court issued a permanent injunction blocking Apple from using its “anti-steering” policies that disallowed linking game/app users to other storefronts. Due to a separate lawsuit, Apple removed language in their App Store Review Guidelines that prevented developers from contacting players outside of the game/app about alternative purchase methods. The judge in the Epic case had ruled that Apple should allow developers to use in-app links and messaging to communicate about better deals at other storefronts, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on enforcement of the injunction in December of 2021, which blocked that portion of the ruling. At that point, in late 2021, the door was opened wide for developers to immediately begin contacting players via email or social media to direct them towards alternative storefronts and payment methods, saving money for players and giving more revenue back to the developers. Xsolla’s own Web Shop solution was designed precisely for this, and the ruling was seen as a win for game publishers and developers everywhere. Both sides appealed the decision in that case, and hearings began in November 2022. In April 2023, a three-judge panel in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed that the lower court ruling should be upheld. Once again, Apple declared victory, while Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney highlighted the court upholding the anti-steering injunction against Apple. So, what does this change for game publishers and developers? It really comes down to a case of Epic losing the battle, but winning the war. Apple will now be required to allow in-app messaging, buttons, links, and so on, which players can use to complete their purchases at a third-party marketplace. Most importantly, this ruling allows developers to continue using third-party payment systems outside of the App Store, which will give them more control over their revenue and help them earn a bigger return on their games. Web Shop is the best means for developers to take advantage of this ruling, as it provides a simple and secure way to accept payments from players. And with a similar court case from Epic Games against Google going to trial in November, we have no doubt that this trend will continue. It’s easy to sign up and start using Web Shop, so get started today and keep more of what you earn. Need help or have any questions? Reach out and contact an expert from our team. We’ll be happy to help.
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