If you’ve been following the news in the past few months, you couldn’t have possibly missed the Apple vs Epic ruling. The real questions are – what does this mean for you, and how can you profit from the Apple vs Epic ruling?
We’re here to answer your questions and tell you exactly what happened.
So…What Happened in the Apple vs Epic Court Ruling?
It all started on August 13th, 2020, when Epic Games launched a seemingly harmless Fortnite update on the App Store.
However, this update contained a feature that allowed consumers to pay Epic directly for in-app currency at a discount. This feature bypassed Apple’s App Store payment system.
Of course, this update violated Apple’s App Store terms and conditions.
Shortly after, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store. The same day Fortnite got removed, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple, stating Apple sought monopoly and had anti-competitive policies.
However, the biggest issue for Epic Games was the 30% cut. Apple takes this cut when payment is processed through their payment system.
Additionally, Epic stated that Apple forced developers to use their store on iOS. Apple denied all allegations. Moreover, Apple noted that Epic’s way to avoid their payment system was similar to shoplifting.
They compared it to a customer leaving the Apple retail store without paying for a product, claiming that they paid somebody else. That’s called shoplifting, and in that case, Apple doesn’t get paid.
Epic reacted to the shoplifting statement by launching the “Free Fortnite” campaign. Epic’s campaign included a video mocking Apple’s “1984” SuperBowl video.
On August 28th, 2020, Apple reacted by terminating all developer accounts related to Epic Games.
Additionally, Apple also cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools.
Then, a series of accusations, email sharing, letters, and tweets started.
A month later, on September 8th, 2020, Apple filed a countersuit against Epic.
Apple stated Epic had breached its contract. They said they would be seeking to block Epic’s payment system from any app on the iOS storefront, not just Fortnite. Also, Apple requested monetary compensation for the money they had lost while Epic avoided their payment system.
During the hearing on September 28th, 2020, Judge Rogers denied Epic’s demand.
Their demand was to require Apple to return Fortnite back on the App Store. However, Judge Rogers said that wouldn’t happen unless Epic decided to play by Apple’s rules. After this preliminary hearing, a bench trial was scheduled for May 2021.
Fast forward to May of 2021, Epic kept on claiming that Apple held a monopoly on iOS app distribution. Moreover, Epic brought up the 30% cut Apple takes.
Apple responded to Epic, saying that most developers were already eligible for a commission rate of 15%.
This rate applied, Apple continued, to developers who made less than $1 million per year.
Then, four months later, in September of 2021, Epic Games requested that Apple reinstate their developer account.
This request was inspired by South Korean authorities coming up with a law that forced Apple and Google to accept alternative paying mechanisms.
But, Apple still declined Epic’s request. The company declared that Epic could only return to Apple’s ecosystem if they agreed on playing by the rules.
The final ruling in September ended with Apple’s victory. The judge had ordered Epic to pay $6 million to Apple, which they did shortly after, according to Tim Sweeney’s tweet.
Furthermore, the judge stated that Apple was not a monopoly. Also, the ruling documentation noted that Apple hadn’t done anything wrong by terminating Epic’s developer profiles.
On the other hand, Epic gained in the sense that Apple was forced to offer a way for developers to add alternative payment systems.
What Changed for Developers?
The lawsuit ended in September, resulting in Apple having to find a way to include developers’ alternative payment systems.
For now, according to Apple’s guidelines, the features within the app, such as subscriptions, in-game currencies, levels, access to premium content, etc., cannot include buttons, external links, or other CTA that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms other than in-app purchase.
However, the question here is: how will it work?
Well, it’s still not possible for developers to just include their payment system inside of the App Store.
This means that when a user buys something from a game on the App Store, it will still take the user to Apple’s payment system.
Unless, of course, the developer informs the users of their website by adding a link to it or showcasing it in some other way that the app stores allow.
However, the ruling states that developers can include metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms.
The problem lies in the fact that these rules are very vague.
What kind of metadata buttons are allowed? How far can a developer go with promoting their payment system?
Is Apple gonna ban developers’ accounts who make the metadata button look a certain way? Can a WebKit view be included within the game? The answers to these questions are still unknown.
Additionally, it is unclear how Apple will interpret the ruling since they have 90 days to apply the alternative payment methods terms.
Moreover, the ruling documentation explicitly allowed developers to communicate with customers through volunteered account registration information, contrary to Apple’s policies.
This means developers can use the information they gather by customers signing up or registering on their website.
However, that doesn’t mean that Apple can share customers’ information with a developer.
So, in general, this ruling brought the ability to include a link or a metadata button. This way, the developers can let users know that they’ve got a website where they can pay for their in-game goods.
Who Will Profit from the Apple vs Epic Ruling?
This ruling, however, won’t have the same effect on everyone. One common benefit is: developers can finally create a bridge between the games and their online commerce presence.
However, the primary winners here are the bigger companies, who will surely profit from the Apple vs Epic ruling. The reason is simple: bigger companies have more resources.
But more importantly, larger companies have more team members who can take advantage of this ruling.
Their websites are more well-known already, and users are more willing to trust a larger brand name.
However, mid-size and smaller developers can benefit from this ruling too. For example, a mid-size developer might not be able to make a stunning animation-loaded website as the bigger company can.
Yet, they can still create a good-looking website with a functioning payment system. Nowadays, it is easier than ever to find web-creation tools online and create a functional website at a low cost.
But in order to stand out in the competition, it will take much more than extensive resources. The creativity of building a metadata button, thinking of a unique CTA, or even including a link doesn’t require breaking a bank.
How Can You Profit from the Apple vs Epic Ruling?
First of all, as we’ve already mentioned, everyone can benefit from the ruling in this situation. Of course, some more than others.
However, everyone has a chance to earn more by offering users alternative payment systems and linking their websites.
One of the most prominent benefits here is the possibility of offering payment features that Apple or other app stores don’t have.
Here are some tips on how to maximize your profit from the Apple vs Epic ruling.
1. Think about Regional Pricing and Preferred Payment Methods
You are probably aware that every country has its own preferred way of online paying. A simple Google search can help you find this out. Targeting local payment systems is a very smart way to convince users to use your payment system.
Let’s say that you want to appeal to Russian customers.
Google tells you that the most popular way to pay online in Russia is by using Visa, MasterCard, and YooMoney. By acquiring this knowledge, you’ll be able to write your CTA based on that information. A simple “Purchase This Character Today Using YooMoney” would be enough to draw YooMoney users’ attention.
The key here lies in convenience.
Users who didn’t plan on purchasing anything from your game could be tempted to buy something if you offer them a convenient way of paying.
It could be an app, a card, or something they already have.
A lot of people today don’t own a credit card, so use that to your advantage. How?
By offering them a way to pay by using their bank account card or some other kind of money transfer service. That way, you’ll be able to reach a wider audience. Chris Hewish, the Xsolla CEO, states that an astounding 30% of players don’t have a credit card, according to Xsolla’s data.
2. Come Up with a Unique Way to Present Your Payment Method
Furthermore, you should offer something others didn’t think of. How will you present your payment method? The competition is fierce, and they’re all trying to think of something unique.
For example, you can try mentioning a special deal or a sale you have.
Of course, be careful with the rules, as they are very vague. Try to avoid saying that a special offer can be grabbed only if a user visits your website.
Of course, as some developers have already thought of, don’t make your button look indistinguishable from Apple’s payment option. That just might get you banned from the App Store.
A safe bet would be to invite your players to shop on your website by writing a CTA or simply informing them of your website link.
In order to check out what will work and what won’t, try to find developer communities on Discord, Slack, or Twitter. Developers can share what boundaries they pushed, what earned them a ban, or what worked out well.
3. Utilize the Convenience of Having a Website and Extract Ultimate Profit from the Apple vs Epic Ruling
Xsolla’s Chris Hewish pointed out that developers should take advantage of the fact that the App Store wasn’t updated for quite some time now.
Having that in mind, a website storefront presents an excellent opportunity for all developers, large and small.
Having a website allows testing and updating in real-time.
There you can test the package pricing, bundling, display of packages, and even color-code the buttons to see what would look best.
Moreover, a website will allow you to test the most-used payment methods.
You can highlight the three most popular ones, and if they stop being popular, you can just change them. The point is – make your website more appealing than the app stores.
Eric Seufert, the founder of Mobile Dev Memo, says that many companies’ UA budgets have been shifting to websites.
He said the App Store was insufficient for testing since it didn’t provide a testing area.
So, investing some money in a website storefront could eventually bring you more revenue than the in-game profits via the App Store.
On your website, you can advertise in-game items and sell them there. Besides in-game items, you can also include your game merchandise, a dev blog, links to your social media, and much more.
What Will Epic Do Next?
After Apple won the lawsuit in September 2021, Epic stated that their battle with Apple is not over. Epic Games’ Sweeney said that the judge’s decision wasn’t a win for developers or consumers.
He also revealed that Epic wouldn’t be bringing Fortnite back to iOS until Epic could offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple’s in-app payment.
However, according to the letter Sweeney posted, Apple stated that Fortnite wouldn’t be back on iOS for the next five years. This means that Apple could prolong the lawsuit until 2026.
Epic filed a notice of its appeal to the Ninth Circuit on September 12, 2021. In this appeal, Epic challenged judge Rogers’ statement that Apple wasn’t a monopoly.
Google was also a part of this story because Epic filed an anti-trust suit against them as well.
After that, Google filed a countersuit, requesting a financial reimbursement for the damage company had suffered when Epic had introduced their payment system to Fortnite on Google Play.
But, Chris Hewish stated that he believed that Google had been making the experience for developers easier.
They had always had an open-minded approach to their ecosystem, Hewish said, and they had listened to developers’ feedback.
On the upcoming version of Android, Android 12, Google promised to make it easier for users and developers to use other app stores other than Google Play.
Of course, without compromising the safety measures, which, as they state, is something they are currently working on.
Therefore, this might be a chance for many developers to have their alternative payment systems on some other app store. Naturally, if Google Play doesn’t end up allowing it.
Google, however, had a different approach to alternative payment systems than Apple from the beginning.
Developers could have referred users to administrative information outside of the app, services, and products that are consumption only, but without using external links or buttons.
So, Google allows developers to say, “Go to our website to upgrade your subscription,” but they cannot provide a link to said website. It is yet unknown how exactly Android users will be affected by and profit from the Apple vs Epic ruling.
Final Thoughts on Profit from the Apple vs Epic Ruling
Now that you’ve learned how to profit from the Apple vs Epic ruling, it’s time to take some steps and make the most of this situation. Will you try out the website storefront system? Did we miss something?
Let us know in the comments below!