New Zealand game developers could make millions more after Apple app store ruling

Kiwi game developers could make millions more, following a court ruling involving Apple.

A US judge has ordered the tech giant to make changes to its App Store policy, which currently takes a 30 percent cut from gamers' purchases.

The online game creator PikPok is one of our most unsung export success stories. Its 190 staff create interactive apps in Wellington and sell them to the world.

"Over mobile, we've had about 465 million downloads of our games, that's quite a lot, we distribute to almost every country in the world, in up to 25 different languages," CEO Mario Wynands says.

They contributed to our gaming industry's $323 million year last year - about $100 million of that was through mobile games for iPhones and iPads.

It would have been more, but Apple and Google charge hefty fees to sell through their AppStore or GooglePlay Store.

"Their standard cut is 30 percent, so they take 30 percent of all transactions that happen through in-app purchases or subscriptions," Wynands says.

Epic Games, the maker of the infamous game Fortnite, is fighting those commissions in court in the US, alleging Apple abuses its market power. Epic wants to be able to offer a cheaper in-app purchasing system to its players.

A federal judge recently ruled in Apple's favour except on one point. The judge did order Apple to change its App Store policy and allow developers to tell gamers that cheaper options do exist.

"What the court has ruled is that we don't have to use Apple's payment systems," NZ Game Developers Association board member Stephen Knightly says.

This means Kiwi developers, like Knightley's RocketWerkz, could pocket more of their profits.

"We don't have to give all of that 30 percent to Apple, some more of that would come to New Zealand companies," Knightly says.

Epic Games is hinting at an appeal, its founder saying on Twitter that this "isn't a win for developers or consumers".

It'll keep fighting - just like its hundreds of millions of Fortnite players.