Epic Games accuses Apple of charging 'unreasonable fees' for mandatory non-App Store purchase link

Julie Clover

Epic Games is going after Apple again, this time accusing the Cupertino company of violating a court order that requires Apple to allow developers to offer in-app links that direct customers to third-party online shopping options.

Apple changed its policy regarding the App Store in the US back in January, and developers are allowed include a single link in your apps that leads to a website where customers can make purchases without using the in-app purchase system. Apple still charges fees on these purchases, requiring developers to pay between 12 and 27 percent (three percent below the standard 15/30 fee).

‌Epic Games‌ unhappy with the fees Apple continues to charge, today told the court that Apple has failed to comply with the order and is asking that Apple be held liable for contempt of court. ‌Epic Games‌ argues that the fees render the links “commercially unusable”, thereby defeating the injunction.

Apple is violating the injunction in three ways. First, regarding external links, Apple has introduced new fees and adopted many new rules that together make the links commercially unusable. This new fee and the accompanying web of restrictions undermine the purpose of the injunction by allowing Apple to continue to extract its excessive commissions and making it virtually impossible for the developer to inform users about and direct users to an alternative platform for making a purchase.

Second, Apple continues to strictly prohibit any controls using “buttons” or “other calls to action.” Specifically, Apple does not allow external links that resemble a “button” in any way.

Third, Apple Guidelines 3.1.3 continue to prohibit certain applications, including all multi-platform services (i.e. .applications that run on multiple platforms). and allow users to access the same content across these platforms, including popular games like Minecraft) “from within the app, encouraging users to use a purchase method other than in-app purchase.” This language clearly conflicts with the injunction by prohibiting any use of alternative methods of purchase.

‌Epic Games‌ collected statements from other developers who spoke out against Apple's App Store fees, including Paddle CEO Christian Owens and Down Dog CEO Benjamin Simon.

Apple was originally ordered to create an ‌App Store‌ changes in 2021 as part of legal proceedings with ‌Epic Games‌. Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers, who oversaw the case, disagreed with Apple's anti-steering rules. Apple was able to delay the implementation of the ‌App Store‌ changed over the course of several years while it was being appealed, but none of the courts decided to change the verdict. Apple ultimately filed a lawsuit in the Supreme Court, but the court refused to hear the case, so Apple had to comply immediately at the beginning of the year.

Apple said it was fully complying with the injunction. . From Apple's January compliance statement:

As of January 16, 2024, Apple has fully complied with the injunction, striking down relevant portions of the App Store Review Guidelines applicable to apps in the United States. iOS and iPadOS app storefronts and implementing new rules that allow developers to (i) include call-to-action buttons or links in their apps that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms in addition to IAPs, and (ii) communicate with customers through touchpoints , obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration in the application. As a result of these changes, developers are now able to educate consumers both inside and outside the app about alternative purchasing mechanisms in addition to IAP.

‌Epic Games‌ argues that the fee Apple charges per link is “financially unattractive” to developers wanting to choose a different payment solution and “prevents any meaningful competition between payment solutions.” The company wants the court to require Apple to bring its policies into line with the injunction.

Tags: Epic Games, Epic Games vs. Apple Guide[ 306 comments ]

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