Apple’s App Store review process and policy have been under the limelight since 2020. Developers have complained that the process is subjective and policies are applied partially. The company has also been accused of cutting corners for bigger or more profitable apps like Amazon Prime. And now the tech giant’s alleged preferential treatment of Roblox is made part of the U.S Department of Justice antitrust investigation against the company.
Roblox is a gaming app which that allows players to create and share games with friends and offers over 50 million adventurous challenges. Players can enjoy solo or multiplayer games, chat with friends or members of Roblox’s global community and upgrade their characters via in-app purchases. The issue with Roblox is that Apple does not allow apps with multiple games which are not approved by the App Store reviewers. That’s why, FaceBook Games, Xbox Cloud, and other online streaming games are not allowed on the App Store.
Apple’s approval of a metaverse game ‘Roblox’ is under investigation by the U.S Department of Justice
In October 2021, it was reported that the U.S DOJ has increased the scope of its two-years long antitrust probe of Apple for anti-competitive practices to exploit its dominant position and crush competition. Actively pursuing the probe, the authority questioned Apple, its customers, and competitors about the company’s control over iPhone and sent subpoenas to the tech giant’s business partners. The Information reports that Roblox’s treatment is also part of the probe now.
Apple’s treatment of Roblox became an unlikely sideshow during a high-profile antitrust trial this summer between Apple and another game developer, Epic Games. During the trial, Epic argued that Apple had given a free pass to Roblox, whose app lets people pick from a selection of games to play. Apple has rejected Epic’s attempt to launch its own game app store on Apple devices.
As the U.S. government tries to put together an antitrust case against Apple for the way it controls iPhones, prosecutors are looking for instances in which the company is unevenly enforcing rules for app developers in ways that could hurt its potential rivals. One example they’re focused on is Apple’s hands-off approach with gaming firm Roblox, which compares starkly to how it deals with other gaming app developers.
The partial implementation of the App Store policy was brought forward by Epic Games lawyers during the trial who questioned the company’s Head of Marketing Trystan Kosmynka over the approval of Roblox on the App Store and categorizing it as an “app” instead of a “game”. Kosmynka said that Roblox offers experiences, not games. And this terminology was quickly adopted by the developer.
“If you think of a game or app, games are incredibly dynamic, games have a beginning, an end, there’s challenges in place. I look at the experiences that are in Roblox similar to the experiences that are in Minecraft. These are maps. These are worlds. And they have boundaries in terms of what they’re capable of.”
As the gaming platform allows millions of developers to create games, Kosmynka argued that those games are in fact experiences because they are designed with Roblox code, “Apple-vetted sandbox.”