The European Union recently passed the Digital Markets Act which will, optimistically, give consumers and game makers more options for where and how they can purchase digital games and content. The act will potentially affect the mobile games market, which is predominantly controlled by Apple and Google without much wiggle room for outside options, much to Epic’s very public chagrin.
The act will allow game publishers and developers to push consumers toward different purchasing outlets outside of Apple and Google’s ecosystems. It means Apple and Google will have to legally allow consumers to purchase game content outside of its stores and bring them into their games. According to an official European Union website offering details about the Act, “It is among the first Initiatives of its kind to comprehensively regulate the gatekeeper power of the largest digital companies.”
Ideally, it will prevent bottlenecks between businesses and consumers and work toward a goal of ensuring a safe and accountable online environment and could also extend to non-gaming digital services like social media or other online marketplaces. The hope for the act is that it will encourage innovation and open the doors for more competition in the digital and mobile marketplace. Additionally, it will also require consumers be able to easily uninstall and change various settings on pre-installed apps.
This issue, not being able to sell content for its games outside of Apple’s stores for the mobile versions of its games, was one of Epic’s main complaints in its lawsuit with Apple. Whether or not Europe’s Digital Markets Act will affect the digital marketplaces of the United States and other countries is unclear. It’s safe to assume companies like Apple and Google will want to maintain its holds on as many digital marketplaces in as many regions as possible, but comparable European legislation is already affecting Apple’s approach to hardware manufacturing. European laws are now requiring consistent charging and data ports for phones and as a result, Apple is reportedly already testing iPhones with USB-C cables. The Digital Markets Act could lead to a comparable outcome. If Apple and Google are required to allow consumers to use alternate digital stores in Europe, it may be easier to just extend those options across the globe.