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Apple Forced to Allow External Links in App Store Games

  • Apple will have to allow external links to sites and stores in its App Store, after a judge rejected its request for a stay.
  • The change will take effect in December.
Design: Alex Brooks

Though Apple was largely seen as the winner in the first round of its legal battle against Epic Games, it had one significant setback that will take effect next month.

The tech giant will have to allow third-party developers to direct customers to external sites and stores, after an Oakland judge denied Apple’s request for a stay on that order on Tuesday.

Apps and games that induce customers to spend outside of Apple’s tech ecosystem will avoid the company’s 30% developer fee (15% for companies with under $1 million in annual revenue), which was a central point of contention in the trial.

  • Apple has a dominant position in the mobile gaming platform market, bringing in $8.5 billion in operating profit in fiscal 2019, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis. 
  • The company earned $13.5 billion from gaming in 2020, twice what it made from all other App Store revenue.
  • Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers estimated the mobile gaming marketplace at $100 billion in her Sept. 10 ruling in the Apple-Epic trial.

Both Apple and Epic are appealing the ruling, which favored Apple on nine of 10 counts. Apple doesn’t have to allow other game stores on its platform, reduce its developer fee, or reinstate Epic hit “Fortnite.”