On October 22, Apple announced that the “App Store Review Guidelines” have been updated for app developers who use the App Store. There are three updates, one of which has changed the rules for use other than in-app purchases.
Apple states that users can use purchase methods other than in-app purchases for certain types of apps delivered on the App Store, such as the iPhone and Mac, and the guidelines for app developers show how developers do. It stipulates whether users can be informed of the existence of payment methods outside the app. What has been updated this time is “Other purchasing methods” in the item related to monetization on the App Store. Specifically, the following bold parts have been deleted.
3.1.3 Other purchase methods: The following apps can use purchase methods other than in-app purchases. However, the apps listed in this section do not allow users within the app to use purchasing methods other than in-app purchases.Developers may also not use the information obtained through the App to invite individual users outside the App to use purchasing methods other than in-app purchases (to individuals who have registered for an account within the App, to others. Send an email informing you how to make a purchase, etc.). However,Developers are allowed to send communications to the user base regarding non-app purchase methods other than in-app purchases by means unrelated to the app.
In other words, it has become possible to encourage users to make out-of-app payments based on information such as email addresses obtained through user registration within the app. As shown in the latter part, it has been allowed to guide users about non-app payments, but it was necessary for developers to obtain their own contact information outside the app. With this update of the guidelines, it can be said that it has become easier for both developers and users to use out-of-app payments.
This update of the guidelines is believed to have been carried out in response to a class action in the United States. The class action was filed in June 2019 by US-based app developers as being anti-competitive about app distribution limited to the App Store and fees of up to 30%. Apple announced in August this year that it would settle with the plaintiffs and update the guidelines as described above as soon as the court approves them.Related article). Although it was a response to a proceeding in the United States, the guidelines for Japan will be updated at the same time.
However, implementing external payment methods within the app is still not allowed, and it remains limited to Apple’s own payment methods. If users use external payments, Apple will not be charged any fees, so the company may not be able to accept it so easily.
Epic Games is in dispute with Apple over the mobile version of Fortnite over payments outside the app. The first-instance decision ordered Epic Games to pay damages for a breach of contract with Apple, while urging Apple to make more in-depth concessions to guide developers to external payment methods. Epic Games appeals the first-instance decision after paying compensation. Apple is calling for a pending court order to come into effect, and it looks like it will take some time before the ruling is finalized (Related article）。