Department of Justice investigation underway in antitrust probe against Apple; Apple’s treatment of Roblox in the spotlight

Apple accused of giving Roblox a "free pass"

The long-standing battle between Apple and Epic Games is over, following the court’s verdict but the findings from the lawsuit are keeping Apple engaged in court proceedings. Investigators from the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) are looking for scenarios where Apple is unevenly applying rules and regulations regarding apps put on the App Store. The antitrust probe on Apple which was started two years ago has accelerated since, with the new findings increasing the likelihood of a lawsuit.

Rules are not the same for all 

The center stage of the antitrust litigation against the Cupertino-based company is the way it has been enforcing rules differently for app developers. Various complaints of apple misusing its monopoly to gain an unfair advantage and dissuading third-party apps and potential rivals have emerged.

Epic mentioning Roblox in the hearing though has caught the attention of the prosecutors. As reported by The Information, Roblox being mentioned in the trial and the underlying reasons for it are being scrutinized by the government. 

Epic vs Apple Trial and the antitrust probe

During the high-profile trial, Epic argued that Apple gave Roblox a “free pass” while denying Epic to launch their store on iOS. Roblox provides a platform for gamers to create and engage in a variety of mini-games. Epic store and Roblox can’t be compared though as Epic store lets users download games from other developers.

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Apple and Epic Games have been in a long-time legal tussle

Roblox has altered its website post the trial to claim that it is offering “experiences” instead of just “games” backing the statement made by Trystan Kosmynka, App Store executive that clarifies Roblox had not violated App Store rules due to Apple not looking at Roblox content “as a game.” He further added that the experience offered by Roblox is quite similar to those of Minecraft. The DoJ recently asked Roblox why it made the language change and what is the difference between a game and an experience. 

As part of a larger antitrust probe, which began in October, the DoJ seeks to clarify if Apple is engaging in antitrust behavior through the App Store. To settle whether Apple is selective in its approach, the DoJ also is also trying to inquire whether the launch of Apple’s own gaming offering, Arcade has made it harder for developers to compete with the tech giant. The investigation is also going to research the complaints it has received on the restriction that Apple puts on location data to certain third-party apps while still allowing it’s very own apps and services full access to the company’s location data.

The App Store has evolved and is still undergoing some changes. The ruling that followed the trial against Epic has seen Apple allowing developers to advertise third-party payment methods outside of the App Store using communication mediums like email.

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