Last week there was a very weird moment in the Epic V. Apple trial where Apple got squeezed on Roblox, the massively popular game that just went public and is a big hit on a ton of platforms. , including iOS.
The question posed to Apple was that if their policy forbidding the Epic Game Store from existing on iOS was not to allow “game stores in the App Store”, why was Roblox an exception? The game has hundreds of thousands of games created by gamers and even full development studios, so it appears to be technically breaking Apple’s rules.
Apple’s explanation was… bizarre. They tried to pretend that the games created by the creators or developers of Roblox were not games, but “experiences”. It’s semantics, but they were trying to justify why Roblox wasn’t difficult, but the Epic Game Store (or other game portals like Xbox Cloud Gaming) can’t have their own apps. Apple later tried to get Epic to admit that the games made in Fortnite are also “experiments,” which they didn’t take the bait on.
Now something pretty weird has happened.
Roblox has now done everything possible to try to align with Apple’s narrative here. They scoured the game and the website and began replacing all variations of the words “game” and “play,” adopting the wording “experience” from Apple, among other changes. Spotted by Taylor hurst, we have:
- Games> Experiences
- Continue playing> Continue
- Friends playing> Friends visiting
- Games (category label)> Explore
- Join the game> Join
- Play> Active
It’s not clear if Roblox did this preemptively, as they didn’t want Apple to decide that in order to be consistent with our policies, we need to kick Roblox out of the store. Or if Apple has contacted them directly about this, but I doubt that is the case. It seems like a move to cover themselves up and avoid a future confrontation with Apple, because unlike Epic, they don’t have a Tim Sweeney who’s in the mood for a fight, and they certainly don’t want to be banned from iOS for impersonating a game store in an App Store, one of the fundamentals of the Apple V. Epic business.
But of course, it’s weird and just kind of a prank because Roblox has never shied away from being a portal to tons of user-created games, which is the whole concept. I took this photo at my local grocery store a week ago:
So, will those cards now say “Discover millions of experiences on Roblox” in another week? Just kidding, and yet maybe this is literally the nonsense that is happening now.
I don’t really like Roblox bending to Apple’s will like this, and I think Epic is right in highlighting them as a game store “exception”. Change all the terminology you want, but that doesn’t change the fundamental nature of what Roblox is. I would like to see Roblox join Epic for Support their push for a more open App Store, instead they do… whatever.
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