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Japan to stop Apple and Google charging through proprietary payment systems

Japanese legislators plan to introduce a ruling requiring major app stores operators like Google and Apple to offer alternatives to their proprietary payment systems. The plans are still in the early stages, but a bill may be submitted to the Japanese parliament by 2024. If implemented, this would mean that Apple and Google, which have a roughly equal share of the mobile OS market in Japan, would no longer be able to use their own payment systems exclusively.

Similar legislative measures have been considered in other countries, such as the UK, where Google has committed to opening its payment systems. However, Japan's proposed measures appear to be more comprehensive and significant. Some media outlets have even called them a "regulation kaiju," drawing a comparison to giant monsters in Japanese films like Godzilla.

The issue is the "app tax" imposed on developers for premium downloads and in-app purchases, typically around 30% of the transaction. This has been a contentious point for developers using first-party app stores like Google Play and the iOS App Store. Epic Games, for example, initiated a high-profile lawsuit against Apple, leading to rulings that allow game developers to offer alternative payment options outside of the app store ecosystem.

Given the importance of in-app purchases in Japan, particularly in the gacha genre, legislators have taken significant steps to address this issue. However, the specific form of the legislation is yet to be determined when it reaches the Japanese parliament.

Some companies, including Finnish developer Supercell, have already begun bypassing the payment tax by establishing their own dedicated web stores for in-app purchases.

Source: Iwan Morris, Staff Writer at PocketGamer

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