“App Store Monopoly” Discussion

Creating this thread to continue the discussion that has recently taken hold in the Xbox Series X discussion thread.

To briefly recap, here are a few links that outlines the recent ongoing issues of late.


Someone stop me if it’s time to start a game streaming thread but…further to the above discussion of Xbox streaming on iOS and Apple not allowing it etc.

Pretty big move from Epic today to let people buy IAP in Fortnite direct without giving money to Apple, AND giving people a discount if they do so.

Feels like they’re doing it literally to see what Apple says / say fuck you your rules re games in general are totally unfair.

I know it isn’t quite speaking to the streaming point, but couldn’t help seeing it as part of the same larger fight.

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Fortnite was just removed from the App Store. This is going to be very interesting to see play out.

I don’t see a scenario where Apple can win here and protect their image. Something about the App Store is going to need to change in a big way.

I personally don’t feel it’s the fee that the issue, but rather the bureaucracy of the rules in place to enforce it. The intention was never to stifle innovation or be anti-competitive, I’d actually argue the opposite. But Apple need to give here, and make the store fairer by today’s standards.

With Hey, Apple countered that hey should have given users the choice to pay via Apple and the app would have been allowed. A middle ground here would be to allow both options directly in app but make paying through iTunes a mandatory option.

None of this resolves the issues preventing the likes of xCloud launching on iOS, which are in dire need of rectification too.

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On the topic of gamepass and Xbox though, in relation to the App Store, I just watched this superb video on the topic by Rene Ritchie

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Epic are suing Apple now they removed it:


Things are getting interesting, Apple will have o give in sooner or later and make some changes

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Also this

We probably need a separate thread for this stuff.

This lawsuit, on top of both the US and EU investigating them for anticompetitive behaviour could be a big blow to Apple. I hope they will be forced to change AppStore policies to allow in-app purchases and streaming services

I by no means want to see a Play Store like free for all, but Apple need to get the stick out of their arse

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This is huge. Especially that epic had that 1984 advert spoof ready to go. Damnnnnn.

I feel like they’re really here to win this fight.

Just some more fuel to Apple being an uneven PoS:

image

(Screenshot from here https://www.theverge.com/2020/8/13/21366438/apple-fortnite-ios-app-store-violations-epic-payments )

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Epic have been cooking this for some time. It’s the perfect bait, and they knew Apple had to take it, otherwise there goes their entire argument against the anti trust case.
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And here’s this: https://www.macrumors.com/2020/08/13/spotify-weighs-in-epic-apple-fight/

Feels like serious popcorn time.

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If Spotify randomly go away I’ll be really unhappy. Although the way I see it, there are two distinct policies people are generally unhappy with:

  1. In-App Purchases can only be made through Apple Pay, giving Apple a 30% cut. I agree with this for safety, security and transparency reasons. Apps shouldn’t be allowed to add whatever botch job of a payment system they want. As someone in the linked article’s comment section put it:

EPIC would drop Apple payment to bypass parental controls, avoid accountability from Apple’s dispute rules and track your identity. This would be a worse experience for consumer.

When consumer is not happy what happened (their kid spent $100 in V-bucks), they might not understand who is at fault and complain Apple about that instead of EPIC.

A reasonable middle ground might be Apple agreeing to reduce their cut here to 10-15% as at the end of the day, they have to go virtually no work for IAPs

  1. Problem no 2 is what I don’t agree with, and that’s Apple’s aversion to streaming services. My understanding is that they don’t allow Stadia or xCloud because they allow access to other content outside the AppStore.

Now I understand why the policy exists (block sideloading apps, ensure content is safe and in line with Apple policies, etc). I just don’t think Apple should apply this to streaming apps. You don’t gain access to anything on your device, you’re only looking at a video stream essentially.

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The fact that Epic are also suing Google kind of puts the lie to their lawsuit being altruistic.

Epic: “We’re suing Apple because they’re acting as a monopoly on distributing iOS software, and forcing us to use their expensive In-App Purchase platform”

Everyone: “Ok, fair enough”

Epic: “We’re also suing Google who don’t enforce any of that.”

Everyone: “What?”

I suspect this is far less about the 30% cut Apple & Google take, and more that custom payment methods aren’t subject to the same parental controls that both companies put in place. Particularly considering the user base that plays Fortnite on mobile vs. console.

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Yes, I agree. After all it wasn’t a middle finger to Apple but rather a stunt to get more attention. They’d love to have everyone pay through their own funding method so then they can refuse refunds for unauthorised purchases. I’m much more sceptical now

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Mostly with you in terms of your points.

Re point 1, my main problem is that it apparently isn’t applied equally. Seems to be 30% cut for all games, apparently 15%/0% for Amazon prime, and then all sorts of non-entertainment apps allow you to purchase stuff through them without apple taking a cut.

The argument there is i guess digital vs physical for 99% of them - but given the world we now live in, that seems increasingly irrelevant.

Re point 2, I definitely do respect apple’s approach but do think it’s time to allow side loading tbh. If an experienced person wants to customise their device a little bit more/install something outside the store, I think that’s more consumer friendly than it is dangerous. Yes Android is clearly less ‘safe’ than iOS but I’m assuming 99% of owners still never have their phones hacked or anything bad etc.

Re this. Saw someone put this really well on Twitter.

It was along the lines of: “no I don’t give a shit about x billion dollar company suing x trillion dollar company. But I do care about indie game studios being rinsed on a 30% cut, and that’ll never change without the big ones standing up to the enormous one.”

Which I think would be my view here. You’re right that epic also just want more money, but if it helps smaller guys, that’s good. Cus 30% does seem to be a joke.

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I think they’ll fight this tooth and nail. Apple built their entire image on privacy and all the controls they give to users. If you allow people to sideload apps, you’re potentially compromising that safety and privacy because people will be allowed to install dodgy apps from questionable sources because “hey this clone of Candy Crush from totally-legit-games-not-a-scam-we-promise.ru has infinite gems!” (or whatever stupid in game currency they use)

I fully support Apple in their stance on this, and if it ever changed I’d have to think about where I go from there. At the same time, allowing reputable companies to publish game streaming apps (streaming of games that aren’t on the AppStore anyways) is a no brainer though.

I don’t for a second think Tencent are standing up for anyone but their own interests. They don’t care about any of the smaller devs and because of the way they do it (shoot yourself in the foot then point at Apple and Google shouting they made you do it) it might not go anywhere. It’s just another disgusting corporate move by a money- and data-hungry Chinese firm.

I think Apple and Google have no reason to charge 30% for IAPs, but they should stick to their guns on this.

Basically I guess I’m saying I’m happy with things as they are as long as Apple get the stick up their ass about game streaming and lower the (IAP) share they take for virtually nothing

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The last dozen or so posts are way off topic- could @Feathers possibly split them off into a new thread?

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Yeah. I don’t think their stance on side-loading is bad. But I do think it could be better and at some point it would almost seem like growing up as an ecosystem imo.

Sorry, not sure if i was clear but I also don’t think Tencent/epic are standing up for anyone else at all. Just that the only way it seems we’ll get the side effect of lower percentages for everyone are if the biggest guys fight Apple for it.

Very fair. I guess an Apple antitrust/anti competitive / app store policies - something like that thread?

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For me, the solution to IAP is a pretty simple one. The App Store is a very different beast to when IAPs were introduced (2009? 2010?). It’s time to allow companies to take customer card details in app, or at least allow them to link out to the web to do this, and allow charging of cards on file. Apple already do this for physical goods companies, and I think in order to escape legal scrutiny, it needs to be allowed for digital goods as well.

The incentive to use IAPs will then be ease of use and customer conversion - essentially, Apple will have to complete, where now they don’t. I suspect that will pretty quickly lead to a reduction of the 30% cut.

The game streaming issue is slightly more complicated. I’m in full agreement with you- I want Xcloud, Stadia etc on iOS, and honestly, I figure it has to be coming eventually. I suspect the hold up is this: How do you write a rule that allows ‘interactive’ streaming, as would be required for game streaming, without also allowing everything that you don’t want on the platform.

If we take porn as the archetypal example of something Apple doesn’t want on the App Store, what is the functional difference between Microsoft streaming you a game of Halo that you can control remotely, and XXX Corp streaming you a ‘game’ that happens to look exactly like their website, that you just happen to be ‘controlling’ from the phone?

At the scale Apple works at, they don’t want to have to react to this stuff, they want to stop it getting there in the first place, and a stream can by definition be changed on a server without needing an app update.

It’s a half formed thought, but I bet that’s what the hold up is.

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