NFT: How Apple wants to lock down the AppStore

NFT: How Apple wants to lock down the AppStore

Having authorised the sale of NFT via its application shop, the Californian giant has now closed a loophole into which some publishers had rushed.

Is Web3 scaring Apple? After publishing a framework for app developers wishing to offer NFTs at the end of September, the 🇺🇸 giant clarified earlier this week that it was now forbidden to import NFTs from "outside" that could unlock features in games available in the AppStore.

In other words, the iPhone maker is not against NFTs. But these NFTs must be acquired in the AppStore, and therefore subject to the 30% commission levied on all purchases (it is lower for small businesses) - which is being contested by many businesses. Gone, then, are the apps to which NFTs purchased elsewhere could be added, such as, for example, via the OpenSea marketplace (where the commission is just 2.5%). 

"Apple has nothing against blockchain, but they don't intend to sit on the commission that has made the AppStore so successful", explains a good industry insider.

Several games publishers had told us in recent weeks that they were planning to take advantage of a loophole in the terms and conditions that would have allowed them to import "external" NFTs while taking advantage of the AppStore and its huge market ($188 billion in revenues in 2021). "This will force us to review our strategy, but we'll never go against Apple, because that's where the mass market for mobile games is," confides one of them.

But for some players, this decision is nonetheless akin to a cold shower. "It's counterproductive. The business model is much less viable with such a commission," laments Bilal El Alamy, founder of Dogami, a virtual game that is a cross between Pokémon and Tamagotchi where you raise dogs (which are NFTs) and can earn cryptos.

"Apple also wants all transactions to be in euros or dollars, which severely limits apps that have an internal economy based on a community token," he insists.

An industry divided

For another publisher, the publication of more precise conditions is "a blessing in disguise". "Many were operating in limbo with the possibility of being banned at any time, at least we now know how to be within the framework to avoid risks," he testifies.

We wonder, however, whether Apple, which did not wish to comment, simply does not want to limit the potential of NFTs. Under the new policy, the prices of NFTs purchased in apps will not be able to vary on resale. "If these assets turn into stablecoins, their potential will be severely limited," continued one publisher.

This is the case with games such as STEPN, which offers to acquire trainers in place of NFTs in order to be remunerated by running, and overall all the play-to-earn models (a model that consists of earning money by playing)... Some trainers could be resold at a golden price 🤑.

Is it therefore worth going through the AppStore to develop games using NFTs? "The AppStore is the perfect evangelism tool and this new policy will complicate the development of blockchain gaming," insists one industry player. But it may also be an opportunity to refocus on the core value of the gaming experience itself, rather than the pursuit of financial gain.

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