Korea Cracks Down On Mobile Duopoly With New Law

A new South Korean law represents a major threat to Google and Apple's dominance over the mobile payment market

Published: August 31, 2021 9:55 AM /


Some of the characters in Epic Games' Fortnite

A new South Korean law forces Google and Apple to allow developers to implement alternative payment methods in their apps. Epic Games' Tim Sweeney praised this decision, calling it a "major milestone" in the industry.

What is this new South Korean law, and how does it affect Apple and Google?

This new South Korean bill - which was approved by the country's National Assembly earlier today - prevents Google and Apple from forcing developers to use the companies' proprietary payment systems when selling content on their respective stores. The bill means that if they want, developers can circumvent Google and Apple's commission (which can reach up to 30%) by directing users to different payment methods. This, in turn, will mean they receive more of the profits from in-app purchases made by consumers. It'll be written into law once it's been approved by President Moon Jae-in (a formality given Moon's party's strong support of the bill).

Characters including Rick Sanchez and Superman marching forward in Fortnite
The new South Korean law has been praised by Epic's Tim Sweeney, who fell foul of Google and Apple while Epic was selling in-app purchases in Fortnite.

The new law has been praised by Epic Games' Tim Sweeney, who tweeted that the law is a "major milestone in the 45-year history of personal computing". He went on to say that all developers should be "proud to say: I am a Korean". Korea is the first nation to introduce this kind of legislation, but given his ongoing legal battles with Google and Apple, Sweeney will no doubt be hoping it isn't the last.

Why are Tim Sweeney and Epic in a legal battle with Apple and Google?

Sweeney originally fell foul of Apple and Google's dominance over the mobile market when Epic attempted to slash 20% off in-app purchases in the mobile versions of Fortnite. Epic attempted to direct customers to use its own payment method to buy content within Fortnite, which is forbidden in both Apple and Google's terms and conditions. Subsequently, Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their stores for this violation, after which Sweeney and Epic filed lawsuits against both companies, both of which are still ongoing.

The tide may be turning on Google and Apple's duopoly over the mobile market, though. Earlier this month, several senators introduced a bipartisan bill aiming to prevent Apple and Google from making usage of their payment systems a condition for listing an app on their stores. It's worth saying here that technically, Android does allow users to download apps via other storefronts, while Apple forbids this completely. As such, the nature of Epic's legal battles with each company is slightly different. Apple has also said it will allow developers to collect information they can use to contact customers about alternative ways to pay for content outside of the App Store. We'll bring you more on this as soon as we get it.

Are you hoping this South Korean law influences other legislators around the world? Let us know in the comments below!

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Joe has been writing for TechRaptor for five years, and in those five years has learned a lot about the gaming industry and its foibles. He’s originally an… More about Joseph