South Korea will force Apple and Google to allow other in-app payment systems

In a move that is bound to please Epic’s Tim Sweeney, the South Korean government has passed a bill that will try and force major platforms into opening up their payment provider options for in-app purchases. 

Apple and Google are the obvious targets here. Both of them currently insist that purchases made within apps that have been distributed via their stores must use their own payment services and pay a 30 per cent cut as part of that process. 

The potential fine for noncompliance is three per cent of a company’s revenue within the country. Although at that rate it’s wholly possible that the pair might simply pay up until lawmakers up the ante. 

All of this comes as many companies and countries look to pin back the big platform holders and force them to open up their ecosystems. Google and Apple for their part have argued that the fees help support that very ecosystem of course. 

“Just as it costs developers money to build an app, it costs us money to build and maintain an operating system and app store… We’ll reflect on how to comply with this law while maintaining a model that supports a high-quality operating system and app store, and we will share more in the coming weeks,” said Google in response.

Both companies have already reduced the amount they take from smaller developers, with a half-price deal for those who have earnt under $1m from the store. However, for anyone bar smaller indie developers that’s unlikely to be a major saving. 

The move is more ammunition for Epic Games’ ongoing battle with Apple and Google over Fortnite revenues. And it stand to reason that the games industry, as the single largest contributor of revenue from such purchases would have much to gain from more countries taking similar actions. 

About Seth Barton

Seth Barton is the editor of MCV – which covers every aspect of the industry: development, publishing, marketing and much more. Before that Seth toiled in games retail at Electronics Boutique, studied film at university, published console and PC games for the BBC, and spent many years working in tech journalism. Living in South East London, he divides his little free time between board games, video games, beer and family. You can find him tweeting @sethbarton1.

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