Japanese legislators plan to rule that major app store operators, such as Google and Apple, must offer alternatives to their proprietary payment systems.
As reported by media outlet Reuters, the plans are in a relatively early stage, but a bill may be submitted to the Japanese parliament as soon as 2024. The plans would mean that Apple and Google, who account for a roughly 50/50 split of the mobile OS market in Japan, would no longer be allowed to utilise solely their proprietary payment systems.
Japan is not the only country to float these kinds of legislative measures. In the UK, Google has also committed to opening up their payment systems, allowing developers to completely discard Google Pay if they choose to. However, Japan’s measures look to be vastly more serious and broad, with some outlets even resorting to referring to them as a “regulation kaiju” - referencing the Japanese term for giant monsters in film, such as Godzilla.
The “app tax” levied against developers on premium downloads and in-app purchases has been a consistent sticking point for those utilising first-party app stores like Google Play and the iOS App Store. The usually 30% or-so cut led to developer Epic Games starting a highly-publicised lawsuit against Apple, which - although mostly a success for Apple - has led to rulings that allow game makers to take payments outside of the app store ecosystem.
Given the special prominence of IAPs in Japan - with it being the home of the purchase-focused gacha genre - it's no surprise that legislators have taken extreme measures. However, it remains to be seen what form this legislation will eventually come in when it reaches the Japanese parliament.