On the same day that Fortnite maker Epic Games is judged with one of the biggest legal challenges in the App Store business model to date, it simultaneously announced the acquisition of community of artist portfolios ArtStation – and immediately reduced commissions on sales. Now, standard creators on ArtStation will see the same 12% commission rate as in Epic’s PC game store, instead of the 30% it used to be. This reduced rate is intended to serve as an example to the wider community as to what a “reasonable” commission should look like. This could become a benchmark against Apple’s 30% App Store commission for big developers like Epic as the lawsuit progresses.
ArtStation today provides a place for game, media and entertainment creators to showcase their work and find new jobs. The company has a long-standing relationship with Epic Games, as many of the creators of ArtStation work with Epic’s Unreal Engine. However, ArtStation has also welcomed 2D and 3D creators across the verticals, including those who don’t work with Unreal Engine.
The acquisition won’t change that, the team says in their announcement. Instead, the deal will expand the possibilities for creators to monetize their work. More specifically, this implies lower commissions. For standard creators, the fees will drop from 30% to 12%. For Pro members (who pay $ 9.95 / month for a subscription), the commission goes even lower – from 20% to 8%. And for self-promoted sales, the fee will only be 5%. ArtEngine’s video streaming service, ArtStation Learning, will also be free for the rest of 2021, the company notes.
The reduced commission, however, is perhaps the most significant change Epic makes to ArtStation, as it gives Epic a specific example of how it treats its own designer communities. It will likely refer to the acquisition and commission changes during its trial with Apple, as well as its own Epic Games Store and its equally low rate. Already, Epic’s move had also prompted Microsoft to scale back its reduction in game sales, after recently announcing a similar drop from 30% to 12%.
In the essay, Epic Games will attempt to argue that Apple has a monopoly on the iOS app ecosystem and that it is abusing its market power to force developers to use Apple’s payment systems and to use it. pay commissions on in-app sales and purchases arising from systems. Epic Games, like several other big app makers, prefers to use their own payment systems to avoid commission – or at the very least, be able to direct users to a website where they can pay directly. But Apple doesn’t allow it, per App Store guidelines.
Last year, Epic Games triggered the expulsion from the Fortnite App Store by introducing a new direct payment method on mobile devices, which offered a steep discount. It was a calculated move. As a result, Apple and Google immediately banned the game for violating their respective App Store policies. And then Epic sued.
While Epic’s fight is technically with both Apple and Google, he has focused more of his energy on the former because Android devices allow apps to be sideloaded (a way to install apps directly), and Apple does not.
Meanwhile, Apple’s argument is that Epic Games accepted Apple’s terms and guidelines and then deliberately violated them in an attempt to secure a special deal. But Apple says the guidelines apply to all developers equally, and Epic doesn’t get an exception here.
However, throughout America’s big tech antitrust investigations, it was discovered that Apple had in fact made special deals in the past. Emails shared by the House Judiciary Committee as part of an investigation revealed that Apple had accepted a 15% commission for Amazon’s Prime Video app at the start, while subscription video apps are generally 30% the first year, then 15% the second year. and beyond. (Apple says Amazon simply qualified for a new program.) Additionally, other older emails revealed that Apple had several talks about increasing commissions even higher than 30%, indicating that Apple believed its commission rate had some flexibility.
Prior to today’s acquisition by Epic Games, ArtStation received a “Megagrant” from Epic at the height of the pandemic to help it through an uncertain time. This could have prompted the two companies to discuss more deeper ties in the future.
“Over the past seven years, we’ve worked hard to empower creators to showcase their work, connect with opportunity, and earn a living doing what they love,” said Leonard Teo, CEO and Co-Founder from ArtStation, in a press release. “As part of Epic, we will be able to advance this mission and give back to the community in a way that we have not been able to do on our own, while still retaining the ArtStation name and spirit. . “