Epic Games has decided to put South Korea’s new law requiring Apple and Google to offer third-party payment options in their app stores to the test.
The developer of hit game Fortnite last year picked a fight with Apple over the 30 per cent commission it charges on both apps and in-app purchases in the iOS App Store.
Epic offered Fortnite players the chance to use in-game virtual currency to buy in-game items directly from Epic, at a price that undercut prices offered in the iOS App Store.
Apple promptly exiled Epic from the App Store.
The case ended up in the courts. Decisions in numerous cases and antitrust actions are pending.
While Epic and Apple battled, South Korea acted by passing amendments to its Telecommunications Business Act that compel Apple and Google to offer third-party payment options.
The law passed last week. Epic on Friday tweeted its plan to invoke its provisions.
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.
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) September 9, 2021
The Register has asked Apple for comment on its response to Epic’s request.
The company has told other publications it can’t re-instate Epic while the games developer persists with any offer that contravenes the App Store T&Cs. It is unclear if that means that Epic could see its account restored if it drops its alternative payment plans outside South Korea, to take advantage of the South Korean law.
The Register will update this story if Apple responds.
If Apple were to defy South Korea, it has less to lose than in some markets. Samsung’s affinity with its home market means the American company’s market share is in the low twenty per cent range – rather smaller than in other developed nations. ®