Apple has long been criticized for its handling of its App Stores, especially on iOS, but it was Epic Games that really set off the chain of events that finally broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Apple has had to make adjustments and concessions in the past year or so to appease developers, regulators, and courts, but one of its biggest losses happened barely two weeks ago in South Korea. Now the Fortnite developer is boldly testing those new waters by requesting the popular game’s return to the App Store, at least in South Korea only.
One of the major points of contention about Apple’s alleged monopolistic behavior over the App Store is how it pretty much forces developers to play by the rules that would, in the end, give it 30% of all app sales, in-app purchases, and subscriptions. Epic Games, who has always been critical of that 30/70 revenue cut practice, kicked the hornet’s nest last year when it quietly added a payment system to Fortnite that bypassed Apple’s and Google’s only sanctioned methods. Unsurprisingly, Fortnite got kicked out of both platform’s official app stores, kicking off lawsuits and investigations into the app store industry in general.
Apple has always remained firm on its in-app payment policy, but it met its biggest defeat in South Korea, where a new bill was passed that circumvented that. If signed into law, Apple, Google, and other app store owners will be legally forced to allow third-party payment systems or face fines. Of course, Apple is not happy about it, but Epic Games is trying to hit it while it’s down.
On its Twitter account, Fortnite boldly announced that Epic Games has requested that Apple reinstate its developer account. It wants to make Fortnite available again on the Apple App Store in South Korea, where it can do what it has always wanted to do in the first place. It will use its own payment system and take all the profits from in-app purchases, at least for users who don’t want to use Apple’s built-in system.
How Apple will respond to this request will be interesting to see. The law is new and still untested, and it only applies to one specific market. Pro-Apple lobbyists in the US are trying to use all tactics to convince South Korea not to go down that path. For now, however, Apple might be forced to comply, earning Epic Games and its allies an epic victory.