There is a new twist in the alleged Fortnite skirmish between Epic Games, Fortnite developer, and the tech biggie Apple. Apple has denied the allowance of Fortnite in the App Store in South Korea. This is even after the recent up-gradation of the Telecommunications Business Act. However, Epic Games has requested Apple to retort the Fortnite account of the developer in South Korea. Epic Games plans to re-launch Fortnite for iOS in South Korea. But, this time, with a turn, they will offer Apple and Epic’s payment simultaneously.
Here goes the Tweet from Fortnite’s Twitter account regarding the same – “Epic has asked Apple to restore our Fortnite developer account. Epic intends to re-release Fortnite on iOS in Korea offering both Epic payment and Apple payment side-by-side in compliance with the new Korean law.”
This request was made after the bill that passed in South Korea updating the Telecommunications Business Act. The bill was passed at the end of August. This bill will apparently force several tech giants, including Apple, to allow developers to use any third-party payment methods.
Where Does the Fire Sparks Now?
Well, Apple has a negative response to the request of Epic Games. Apple stated the same according to Tech Crunch– “As we’ve said all along, we would welcome Epic’s return to the App Store if they agree to play by the same rules as everyone else. Epic has admitted to breaching of contract and as of now, there’s no legitimate basis for the reinstatement of their developer account.”
It does not seem like Apple will allow Epic’s Fortnite back in the App Store any time soon. According to Apple, the law passed does not oblige Apple to approve the account application of the developer program. But, Apple is far from budging to the terms of the new law.
Epic and Apple Feud Dates Back
Epic went through a lot of preparation to change the system of the App Store. After several months of preparation, they took Apple to court on trial. This whole fight dates way back to August 2020, when Epic Games included the direct payment mechanism to Fortnite. This takes a cut of around 15 to 30% on every purchase made on apps. The game does not require any introduction. However, the introduction of the direct payment method was a violation of Apple’s policies. Without any delay, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store. As expected, Epic was not going to abide or settle with this removal. They were quick enough to slam Apple with an antitrust lawsuit. The lawsuit aimed to establish the App Store of implying monopoly.
Nevertheless, a district judge from the US has struck Apple’s business model. The judge further ruled that Apple cannot stop developers from including any purchase link that directs users outside App Store. Apple countersued Epic Games and accused them of stealing 30% commission with their new payment process. The judge even stated that apps could direct purchase links as they like and can avoid giving the 30% cut to Apple. According to The Guardian, the order will let developers include “buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms” in their apps.
What Does the New Law of South Korea State?
After several delays, the National Assembly of South Korea voted to pave the way for the “Anti-Google Law.” Even though it is nicknamed after the search engine giant, it includes both Google and Apple. The law will prevent both companies from compelling developers to use their in-app billing programs. This means developers can include third-party purchase links while developing apps for Google and Apple.
This is a remarkable event! It is the first for any government to impose the law to prevent such monopoly of Google and Apple. Not only this, both the giants are under tremendous scrutiny for such restrictive systems in other markets. Thus, all eyes are on this law if it can change this restriction.
The preliminary committee of South Korea voted on 25th August 2021 to advance with the reviewed Telecommunication Business Act. It seeks to prevent Apple and Google from charging developers commission on in-app purchases. It was in August 20020 that South Korea initiated to propose bills. These bills were mainly to stop the international tech giants from establishing their dominance over app payment methods.
After the US trial, Apple agreed to let apps incorporate third-party payment links that direct outside the App Store. But, they have not shown the same enthusiasm in letting developers include substitute payment systems in the apps.
According to Tech Crunch, Apple stated, “the proposed Telecommunications Business Act will put users who purchase digital goods from other sources at risk of fraud, undermine their privacy protections, make it difficult to manage their purchases, and features like ‘Ask to Buy’ and Parental Controls will become less effective.”
It is still not clear whether Fortnite will make a comeback in the App Store or not. It has been over a year that the big-time hit game is out of App Store. However, South Korea is a huge market for game developers, publishers, and designers. So it is safe to say that not being on the App Store deprives Epic Games of a massive revenue they could collect from South Korea alone. It also is denying all the Fortnite fans who use iOS from playing this game.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted, “Korea is first in open platforms! Korea has rejected digital commerce monopolies and recognized open platforms as a right. This marks a major milestone in the 45-year history of personal computing. It began in Cupertino, but the forefront today is in Seoul.”
Apple still seems to be extremely stubborn to bend. Allowing third-party payment methods will deprive Apple of the 30% cut. But it will surely take away the blame of them imposing a monopoly away. Hence, it will not be a complete loss for the global tech giant.