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Japanese developers complain about App Store business model following antitrust accusations


While we’ve been following the dispute between Apple and Epic Games, Japanese developers have now expressed concerns about the App Store’s business model regarding Apple’s 30% commission and also how the company treats third-party apps. As the gaming market in Japan is extremely strong, the local government may soon take action against the Cupertino-based company.

According to a Bloomberg report, several Japanese developers have stood in favor of Epic Games in the dispute against Apple due to the removal of Fortnite from the App Store. They mentioned that the App Store review process is unfair and that the company should give better treatment to third party apps in its store considering the high commission developers must pay Apple.

While Epic, publisher of the hit title Fortnite, focuses on the 30% revenue cut app stores typically take, Japanese game studios have broader concerns. They have long been unhappy with what they see as Apple’s inconsistent enforcement of its own App Store guidelines, unpredictable content decisions and lapses in communication, according to more than a dozen people involved in the matter.

Hironao Kunimitsu, founder of the Japanese gaming company Gumi Inc, wrote on his Facebook that he wants “from the bottom of my heart Epic to win,” in reference to the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games. But the problem goes beyond Apple’s 30% commission, as developers criticize the company for the App Store review guidelines.

Makoto Shoji, founder of PrimeTheory Inc, argues that “Apple’s app review is often ambiguous, subjective and irrational.” Shoji complains that the app review process sometimes can take weeks, but it’s difficult to get support from Apple on these occasions. “While Apple will never admit it, I think there are times when they simply forget an item’s in the review queue,” said the developer.

Another situation addressed by Japanese developers is how Apple sometimes has its own interpretation of what is appropriate content in an app. The report mentions that several game studios had to change their characters in swimsuits as Apple claimed they were sexualized characters.

Apple CEO Tim Cook testified this year at an antitrust hearing of the US Judiciary Committee and the company has also been facing antitrust charges in Europe. These investigations may extend to even more countries as Japan’s antitrust regulator said in an interview that they’re monitoring Apple’s practices when it comes to how the company manages the App Store.

It’s worth mentioning that the first hearing of the case between Apple and Epic Games is expected to take place later this month.

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