October 31, 2020

Apple grants Facebook’s paid online events temporary exemption from its App Store fee

Facebook introduced a new feature last month that would allow businesses to host paid online events and announced that it won’t charge any fee as a goodwill gesture to support them during the pandemic. However, Apple charged its standard 30% App Store fee for transactions made during such online events, which led to some ugly back-and-forth. Facebook even accused Apple of robbing small businesses of their hard-earned revenue and also claimed that it was blocked from telling users that Apple took a 30% fee for online events. Now, in a surprising turn of events, Apple has announced that it will grant a temporary exemption to Facebook’s paid online events.

What this means is Apple won’t take its 30% fee and 100% of the money raised by these events will go to businesses. “This is a difficult time for small businesses and creators, which is why we are not collecting any fees from paid online events while communities remain closed for the pandemic,” Facebook spokesperson Joe Osborne was quoted as saying by CNBC. “Apple has agreed to provide a brief, three-month respite after which struggling businesses will have to, yet again, pay Apple the full 30% App Store tax.” 

An Apple spokesperson reportedly told CNBC that it is making a reversal to temporarily waive off the App Store fee for paid online events on Facebook “due to the pressures businesses are facing from the pandemic.” The Apple spokesperson added that the company seeks to give businesses some more time so that they can adapt to digital business models. 

However, Apple is not waiving off the App Store tax for gaming-related events, because the company thinks that the gaming industry has not been affected by the ongoing global health crisis. Facebook, on the other hand, has announced that it won’t charge any fee for paid online events by game creators on its Facebook Gaming platform until August 2021, but only on desktop. Facebook is apparently not happy with Apple excluding gaming events from its App Store fee exemption for paid online events. 

“Apple’s decision to not collect its 30% tax on paid online events comes with a catch: gaming creators are excluded from using Facebook Pay in paid online events on iOS. We, unfortunately, had to make this concession to get the temporary reprieve for other businesses,” Facebook Gaming VP, Rajat Sharma, was quoted as saying by Variety. To recall, Apple rejected the Facebook Gaming app from getting listed on the App Store. 

Apple has lately been involved in another war with the likes of Microsoft and Google over allowing cloud gaming services such as xCloud and Stadia on the App Store. The tussle is over Apple’s 30% App Store fee and app review policies, something that has been called anti-competitive by many stakeholders in the gaming industry. Apple recently claimed that cloud gaming services violate App Store policies. However, Apple eventually budged earlier this month and said it will allow these apps on the App Store, but laid out some conditions that are still deemed unacceptable by publishers and developers. 

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