European Commission fines Apple almost $2 billion over music streaming subscription policies

Daniel Sims

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What just happened? Spotify has spent five years accusing Apple's music streaming subscription policies of being anti-competitive, and the European Union just ruled overwhelmingly in Spotify's favor. Apple argues that it deserves a cut for its role in Spotify's success. Meanwhile, another battle looms between the companies over sideloading and new fees.

The European Commission fined Apple nearly €1.8 billion ($1.92 billion) over its rule that forbade music streaming apps from informing users of subscription options outside the company's platform. Spotify, the case's lead claimant, praised the decision, while Cupertino vowed to appeal it.

For nearly a decade, music streaming apps on iOS like Spotify couldn't direct users toward premium subscription payment channels outside the App Store, such as a streaming company's website. They also weren't allowed to include in-app links to their website or email users with information about alternate payment options.

In 2019, Spotify brought its policy complaint to the European Union, claiming that the smartphone market leader directed subscribers toward in-app payments. It contends the rules gave Apple an unfair 30 percent revenue cut and impeded competition against Apple Music. Subsequently, Japanese regulators pushed the Cupertino giant to change its policy in 2022.

After a years-long investigation, the EU found that Apple illegally used its position as a dominant platform to withhold critical pricing information from customers. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager hopes the hefty fine will discourage Apple from repeating this behavior, but the company is determined to defend its walled-garden policies.

Apple criticized the decision, pointing out that Spotify is currently the world's largest music streaming platform and asserts that iOS played a direct role in attaining that position. The company's legal team claims no evidence of consumer harm or anti-competitive behavior exists. It instead suggests that Spotify unfairly wants its app to reside on the App Store's backend without paying rent.

The defense aims to influence Europe's regulators before the impending Digital Markets Act goes into effect on Thursday. The DMA's new rules force Apple to allow alternate app stores and browser engines in the EU. It struck back by attaching new operation fees to its updated policies, which angered Spotify and other companies.

Spotify and Epic Games claim that the new fees on downloads and updates that exceed one million will discourage developers from leaving the App Store and incentivize maintaining the status quo. Vestager said the EU will examine Apple's changes to determine whether they are DMA-compliant.

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Good.
Apple both controlling the market (and making the rules) and being a major player in said market has always been a conflict of interest (same goes for Google, Amazon and other types of giant markets).

The only big market I can think of that has been good about it is Steam (considering how few games they actually push a decade lol).
 
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Nothing will discourage Apple or any big tech company from shameful and corrupt practices unless they are prepared to throw the CEO and Board members in prison, it's that simple.
 
Good.
Apple both controlling the market (and making the rules) and being a major player in said market has always been a conflict of interest (same goes for Google, Amazon and other types of giant markets).

The only big market I can think of that has been good about it is Steam (considering how few games they actually push a decade lol).

Steam does still take a very large fee compared to operating costs, which is probably only possible due to their market position. But they are not scummy like Google / Apple, but then again, Steam has actual competition via direct to consumer based transactions, GoG, and the fact that they don’t own, and therefore can’t lockdown, the actual platform, Windows. I wonder if, if SteamOS takes off, they won’t be as scummy on that platform.
 
Good.
Apple both controlling the market (and making the rules) and being a major player in said market has always been a conflict of interest (same goes for Google, Amazon and other types of giant markets).

The only big market I can think of that has been good about it is Steam (considering how few games they actually push a decade lol).

What are you talking about. Steam literally milks developers dry, taking 30% of their cut doing nothing but distribute the game.
 
What are you talking about. Steam literally milks developers dry, taking 30% of their cut doing nothing but distribute the game.
Believe it or not, the devs also sell keys without giving Steam that 30% cut. In fact, most of my games on steam are from such sales on other stores (Fanatical or Humble for example) :)
 
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Believe it or not, the devs also sell keys without giving Steam that 30% cut. In fact, most of my games on steam are from such sales on other stores (Fnatical or Humble for example) :)
Steam is actively trying to stop key sales - https://www.vg247.com/in-order-to-r...r-automatically-fulfil-key-requests-from-devs

They want the full 30% cut however maybe they "only" get 25% on average, which is still more than double the percentage Epic Games take.

Steam is becoming more and more bloated too, I hope they will clean up their interface soon.

Steam is still what I primarily use however I could not care less if another Store takes over eventually. Giving more to dev's with lower prices in general.

Apple and Google takes 30% as well in App/Play Store.

They should all lower it to 10-20% including Steam.

Giving more to actual devs, which would allow for cheaper games too. Instead AAA price went from 60 to 70 dollars/euro. Part of the reason for this is the big cut.
 
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Just a drop in the bucket for Apple .... make it several hundred billion and they might notice it ......
 
Steam is actively trying to stop key sales - https://www.vg247.com/in-order-to-r...r-automatically-fulfil-key-requests-from-devs

They want the full 30% cut however maybe they "only" get 25% on average, which is still more than double the percentage Epic Games take.

Steam is becoming more and more bloated too, I hope they will clean up their interface soon.

Steam is still what I primarily use however I could not care less if another Store takes over eventually. Giving more to dev's with lower prices in general.

Apple and Google takes 30% as well in App/Play Store.

They should all lower it to 10-20% including Steam.

Giving more to actual devs, which would allow for cheaper games too. Instead AAA price went from 60 to 70 dollars/euro. Part of the reason for this is the big cut.
We are talking about complete outliers that make no sense, like the example given by them with only a few sales on steam but hundreds of thousands of keys being made.

The only ones that behave like this are shovelware titles which rely on bundle sales for a few $ and just use steam for its free bandwidth.

The continued sale of steam keys for all of the legit games kinda proves this. Once I don't see steam keys on other websites I'll take the same stance as you are doing now.

FYI I don't care about how little Epic takes from devs. That store is cancer, nothing more nothing less. They've never made a profit since their initial launch in 2018 and they will not make a profit in the next several years. They are just trying to destroy smaller stores since they know they can't really make a dent in steam's market share with such tactics.
 
What are you talking about. Steam literally milks developers dry, taking 30% of their cut doing nothing but distribute the game.
30% is only the first $50 million in sales isn't it? then it drops to 20%?

I've said this for a long time, Steam is one of the only stores that actually does anything, you can stream games, play co-op games remotely, mod support, big screen mode, the list goes on and on over other stores out there.

Also, do we know how much Sony charge for putting games up on the PSN Store? Or Microsoft on the Xbox Store? Or Nintendo? And none of those stores have mod support, Nintendo barely has cloud game saves working.
 
30% is only the first $50 million in sales isn't it? then it drops to 20%?

I've said this for a long time, Steam is one of the only stores that actually does anything, you can stream games, play co-op games remotely, mod support, big screen mode, the list goes on and on over other stores out there.

Also, do we know how much Sony charge for putting games up on the PSN Store? Or Microsoft on the Xbox Store? Or Nintendo? And none of those stores have mod support, Nintendo barely has cloud game saves working.
That is too be expected from consoles. They are cheap for a reason, games are more expensive and they will try to make you subscribe for monthly fees to unlock features that PC gamers get for free.

Its 25% between 10 and 50 million. They take 20% after 50 million USD but how many games reach this tho?

Actual game developers should not give away 25-30% of the cut just because Steam has monopoly, but they are loosing more and more players to Epic Games and other launchers anyway.

Launcher exclusive games has come to stay. Steam won't get all games and actually lacks many newer games now. If you insist on Steam and nothing else, you will miss out.
 
What are you talking about. Steam literally milks developers dry, taking 30% of their cut doing nothing but distribute the game.
I can't tell if you're trolling, or you are shallow enough to actually believe that.

First off, 30% isn't milking. Especially in comparison to how much Devs made before digital was a thing, and compared to most other game markets.
And second, if you're going to be disingenuous enough to try and convince me that the ONLY thing Steam is doing is distributing their games, then we're done here until you're more honest about that position.
 
How dare Steam not fulfill a keys request when the dev is abusing the "keep 100% of the profits from keys" system Steam setup to work along side their store innocently selling many more keys than Steam copies.

Are you serious? In what reality would a serious business allow a Dev to take advantage of the many things Steam does (including hosting their game) for free?
What precedence would that set for other Devs?

All I can say is congrats to the Devs who were scummy enough to break the implied trust, forcing this change...
 
My question is, who really cares? We all know what streaming service we want to use and use it. This whole thing makes no sense.

So much for being the owner of intellectual property. Nothing is owned anymore, it seems. IOS is owned by Crapple, and so is the iPhone. So, why can't they do whatever the hell they feel like with it? If we don't like it, we won't use it.
 
My question is, who really cares? We all know what streaming service we want to use and use it. This whole thing makes no sense.

So much for being the owner of intellectual property. Nothing is owned anymore, it seems. IOS is owned by Crapple, and so is the iPhone. So, why can't they do whatever the hell they feel like with it? If we don't like it, we won't use it.
Because letting companies do "whatever they want" is not ok at all (for both consumers and competition). Especially those that control large portions of the market like Apple does.

The EU is doing the right thing and people obviously care.
 
That is too be expected from consoles. They are cheap for a reason, games are more expensive and they will try to make you subscribe for monthly fees to unlock features that PC gamers get for free.
The Steam Deck is £50 more than a Switch, you can build PC's (second hand) cheaper than consoles. That's not to be expected at all. My entire point is that features are not free, they cost to develop and maintain. My point is that most other stores cost the same yet do not provide even remotely the same amount of options and features as Steam does.
Its 25% between 10 and 50 million. They take 20% after 50 million USD but how many games reach this tho?
I mean, we could use PalWorld as a recent example I guess? 12 million copies sold on Steam, game was $24.99, that's $300,000,000 so they definitely paid the 20% for the vast majority of their sales.

Lets go for an even cheaper game, Valheim, 12 million sold according to an article from last year, $19.99, that's $240,000,000.

Imagine how much the big developers must be bringing in, what's that really crap game that came out recently after the publisher called it a "AAAA" experience, Skull & Bones! That's a $70 game, A few anonymous sources told Insider Gaming’s Tom Henderson that Skull and Bones currently has roughly 850k players. That game is rubbish and the player count is particularly low across all platforms for a big release game from a big publisher, and they obviously sold more than that, that's just current players a couple of weeks after launch, it's still over the $50 million mark.

I think you'll find more games get over that $50 million hump more than you realise, Indie devs really are the ones that take the hit, as I've said before, Indie devs are more than welcome to release on multiple store fronts and actively promote other Store fronts.
Actual game developers should not give away 25-30% of the cut just because Steam has monopoly, but they are loosing more and more players to Epic Games and other launchers anyway.
Sony with PS, Microsoft with Xbox, Nintendo with it's store, you can even argue Apple with its App store, those are actual monopolies', you cannot buy from any other store on those platforms, Steam is not a monopoly, there are other stores.
Launcher exclusive games has come to stay. Steam won't get all games and actually lacks many newer games now. If you insist on Steam and nothing else, you will miss out.
Why would you want that? Why would you want it to actively become a monopoly? What should actually happen is all games are released on all stores at the same time. Then you can pick your favourite store based on whatever criteria you deem important.

For me, Big Picture Mode, Streaming and Steam Deck ease-of-use are selling points. If pricing is substantially cheaper on another store I could be swayed.

Do you know what I don't consider a criteria (unless it's a genuine small time indie dev) is how much of a cut the store makes...
 
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