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The United States Justice Department is investigating Apple for antitrust issues, and Roblox is an area of interest for prosecutors attempting to put together a case, reports The Information.

roblox-logo.jpg

Investigators are looking for situations where Apple is unevenly enforcing rules for app developers, and Roblox is an area of interest because of the way the app works. Roblox is an online gaming platform that allows its users to play and program games that can be played with others.

Roblox users can create a variety mini games that can be accessed within the main Roblox app, and during the Epic v. Apple trial, Epic argued that Apple had given Roblox a "free pass" while preventing other apps from doing something similar.

Epic Games equated Roblox to the Epic Games Store, an app that would serve as a third-party alternative to the App Store, offering users access to games without paying Apple's fees. As Epic offers access to major games created by other developers, it's not quite the same as the Roblox games created by Roblox users, but the Roblox app is now in the spotlight.

After coming up in the Epic v. Apple trial, Roblox altered its website to clarify that it offers "experiences" instead of "games," a change made after App Store executive Trystan Kosmynka explained that Roblox did not violate App Store rules because Apple did not view Roblox content "as a game." Kosmynka said that the "experiences" within Roblox were similar to "the experiences in Minecraft," another game where users can build mini game-like content.

The Department of Justice has been taking a look at details brought up by the Epic v. Apple trial and recently asked Roblox and other developers to clarify the difference between a game and an experience. Roblox has been asked to explain why it changed the language on its website.

Apple Arcade appears to be a topic of interest as well, with investigators asking developers whether the Apple Arcade game store has made it more difficult for developers to compete with Apple. The DoJ is also looking into complaints that Apple has restricted location access for third-party apps while still allowing its own apps and services full access to location data.

Back in October, the DoJ accelerated its antitrust probe into Apple, and it is likely that Apple will be facing an antitrust lawsuit. The DoJ is still gathering information at this time, and it's not clear when Apple could face a legal battle.

The App Store is undergoing some changes at the current time that will impact any antitrust investigation. Apple has already agreed to allow developers to use communication methods like email to advertise payment options available outside of iOS apps, and Apple may be forced to make even more drastic App Store updates this week.

In the Epic v. Apple ruling, the judge overseeing the case ordered Apple to stop restricting developers from including "in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms." Apple asked for more time to implement the changes, but was denied. The issue has been kicked over to a the Ninth Circuit appeals court, and if Apple does not get a stay by December 9, the company will need to comply with the original ruling.

Article Link: Department of Justice Exploring Apple's Treatment of 'Roblox' Game in Antitrust Investigation
 

boss.king

macrumors 603
Apr 8, 2009
5,401
4,709
Apple doesn't take a cut from amazon ebay or any other regular marketplace app
I believe they've drawn some sort of line at taking a cut for digital goods but not physical shopping (i.e. buying actual objects from Amazon, eBay, etc). Whether that's actually how they operate is another matter though.
 
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bookofxero

macrumors 6502
Dec 31, 2017
367
578
I believe they've drawn some sort of line at taking a cut for digital goods but not physical shopping (i.e. buying actual objects from Amazon, eBay, etc). Whether that's actually how they operate is another matter though.
Correct - that is why you can order a physical book to be delivered to you via Prime, but have to use your browser to order the Kindle version.
 

toobravetosave

macrumors regular
Sep 23, 2021
224
466
I believe they've drawn some sort of line at taking a cut for digital goods but not physical shopping (i.e. buying actual objects from Amazon, eBay, etc). Whether that's actually how they operate is another matter though.

It's funny this is why you couldn't buy books on kindle or amazon app but could through safari. Can also buy digital codes. Really it's just apple drawing lines in the sand trying to keep whatever 33% cuts they can
 

sw1tcher

macrumors 68040
Jan 6, 2004
3,747
9,936
After coming up in the Epic v. Apple trial, Roblox altered its website to clarify that it offers "experiences" instead of "games," a change made after App Store executive Trystan Kosmynka explained that Roblox did not violate App Store rules because Apple did not view Roblox content "as a game." Kosmynka said that the "experiences" within Roblox were similar to "the experiences in Minecraft," another game where users can build mini game-like content.
Couldn't it be argued that the player skins that are offered in Fortnite is also an "experience" feature? It enhances the players in-game experience.
 

needsomecoffee

macrumors 6502
May 6, 2008
336
773
Seattle
The Kosta Eleftheriou law suit might prove most interesting. I'd love to be reviewing the Apple docs provided via discovery in that one. (Assumes Apple lets it get to discovery.)
 

SFjohn

macrumors 65816
Sep 8, 2016
1,468
2,803
The DOJ is after ALL the data in your iPhones, they will use every means at their disposal to get it. This is just part of a long-standing effort to break Apples’s lock on providing their customers with serious privacy protection products & services. As for everyone wishing to see Apples’s “walled garden” removed, be careful what you wish for…
 

somnolentsurfer

macrumors regular
Dec 28, 2008
153
256
Roblox undoubtedly does sell games in all but name, and their absurd ‘tax’ system is a proper demonstration of why Apple’s really isn’t all that bad. There’s an excellent investigation into it by People Make Games on YouTube that’s well worth a watch.
 
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GermanSuplex

macrumors 65816
Aug 26, 2009
1,437
29,747
I have a hard time believing using Roblox as an example of special treatment is a good argument, unless the people deciding the case are clueless about tech and software.
 

bookofxero

macrumors 6502
Dec 31, 2017
367
578
Apple will continue to draw lines around verbal semantics to preserve their tax on the free ideation and development by all developers. "Experiences" vs "Games" ... come on... You can only squeeze creators for so long ....
"Squeeze creators"? By doing what that is so different from what retail distribution and other marketplaces do, exactly? Not use their hardware as a loss leader and/or featuring their own software/apps? then, Nintendo has been running those same plays for a while now. If you are referring to the cut they take on subscriptions/digital goods, then you need to do more research on how other distribution channels work because even the shelf placement of products at your local grocery store comes at a cost.
 

Cosmosent

macrumors 68020
Apr 20, 2016
2,315
2,694
La Jolla, CA
As I understand it, today is the last day for an interested third-party to submit an Amicus Brief, regarding Apple's Dec 9th Epic court battle requirement.

So, we could find out as early as tomorrow if Apple gets a Stay OR NOT !

Whether it's Dec 9th OR Jan 9th, it will represent the very-start of the Complete Break Up of the App Store !

And when that happens, think 1849-like California Gold Rush ! ...

exciting times ahead :) !
 

Cosmosent

macrumors 68020
Apr 20, 2016
2,315
2,694
La Jolla, CA
"Squeeze creators"? By doing what that is so different from what retail distribution and other marketplaces do, exactly? Not use their hardware as a loss leader and/or featuring their own software/apps? then, Nintendo has been running those same plays for a while now. If you are referring to the cut they take on subscriptions/digital goods, then you need to do more research on how other distribution channels work because even the shelf placement of products at your local grocery store comes at a cost.

To use Tim's Grocery analogy, the one he used when he Announced Apple would NO longer disclose iPhone Unit Sales, there is one BIG difference with iOS app, vs a traditional Grocery Store.

When it comes to iOS apps, there is ONLY ONE Grocery Store, Apple's "curated' iOS App Store, run by two guys who NO software development experience & NO experience running a third-party software company !

I think it's fair to say, that except for those Apps that Apple has (clearly) Played Favorites, Apple has NO friends in the App Developer Community !

They should have reduced their cut to 7.5% across the Board for ALL transactions, years ago !

That would have triggered what's about to happen, starting on either Dec 9th OR Jan 9th.

The stock market has been completely ignoring what's about to happen.

Anyone who devotes some serious time to thinking it thru, will be Ahead of the Curve ... to my knowledge, NO stock Analyst who covers AAPL for a living currently has.
 

VPrime

macrumors 68000
Dec 19, 2008
1,722
86
London Ontario
We're a small developer, and our app does something very similar. Our users can make games and share them within our platforms community (and even export to the app store).

We're a nobody, especially compared to Roblox. I don't think roblox is getting a special pass. I think they (like us) have a system in place that works around the current apps tore rules. And we're not alone. There are some of our competing apps that do the same thing.


I don't think Epic has a case here... That being said apple does give special passes to some developers. We've experienced it with other apps in the past.
 
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