January 20, 2023
Apple Inc. (“Apple”) and Google LLC (“Google”) dominate the global game market by offering the most used app stores in the world. However, Apple and Google’s developer rules require user transactions to occur within their closed ecosystems to ensure that they receive a certain percentage of user payments. Meanwhile, the mobile blockchain game industry exploded between 2021 to 2022. An open ecosystem approach underlies many blockchain games, whereby players can truly own in-game digital assets and exchange such digital assets for value on various marketplaces. Due to the conflicts between Apple and Google’s closed ecosystems and the open ecosystem approach inherent to many blockchain games, Apple and Google’s rules as applied to blockchain games are often unclear. This legal update looks to Apple and Google’s developer rules and identifies areas of conflict between these rules and core ideologies underlying blockchain games. It then reviews several currently popular blockchain games offered in Apple and Google’s app stores to ascertain how these mobile platform giants might apply their rules to blockchain games.