Department of Justice Exploring Apple's Treatment of 'Roblox' Game in Antitrust Investigation

The United States Justice Department is investigating Apple for antitrust issues, and Roblox is an area of interest for prosecutors attempting to put together a case, reports The Information.

roblox logo
Investigators are looking for situations where Apple is unevenly enforcing rules for app developers, and Roblox is an area of interest because of the way the app works. Roblox is an online gaming platform that allows its users to play and program games that can be played with others.

Roblox users can create a variety mini games that can be accessed within the main Roblox app, and during the Epic v. Apple trial, Epic argued that Apple had given Roblox a "free pass" while preventing other apps from doing something similar.

Epic Games equated Roblox to the ‌Epic Games‌ Store, an app that would serve as a third-party alternative to the App Store, offering users access to games without paying Apple's fees. As Epic offers access to major games created by other developers, it's not quite the same as the Roblox games created by Roblox users, but the Roblox app is now in the spotlight.

After coming up in the Epic v. Apple trial, Roblox altered its website to clarify that it offers "experiences" instead of "games," a change made after ‌App Store‌ executive Trystan Kosmynka explained that Roblox did not violate ‌App Store‌ rules because Apple did not view Roblox content "as a game." Kosmynka said that the "experiences" within Roblox were similar to "the experiences in Minecraft," another game where users can build mini game-like content.

The Department of Justice has been taking a look at details brought up by the Epic v. Apple trial and recently asked Roblox and other developers to clarify the difference between a game and an experience. Roblox has been asked to explain why it changed the language on its website.

Apple Arcade appears to be a topic of interest as well, with investigators asking developers whether the ‌Apple Arcade‌ game store has made it more difficult for developers to compete with Apple. The DoJ is also looking into complaints that Apple has restricted location access for third-party apps while still allowing its own apps and services full access to location data.

Back in October, the DoJ accelerated its antitrust probe into Apple, and it is likely that Apple will be facing an antitrust lawsuit. The DoJ is still gathering information at this time, and it's not clear when Apple could face a legal battle.

The ‌App Store‌ is undergoing some changes at the current time that will impact any antitrust investigation. Apple has already agreed to allow developers to use communication methods like email to advertise payment options available outside of iOS apps, and Apple may be forced to make even more drastic ‌App Store‌ updates this week.

In the Epic v. Apple ruling, the judge overseeing the case ordered Apple to stop restricting developers from including "in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms." Apple asked for more time to implement the changes, but was denied. The issue has been kicked over to a the Ninth Circuit appeals court, and if Apple does not get a stay by December 9, the company will need to comply with the original ruling.

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Top Rated Comments

boss.king Avatar
32 months ago

Because the Justice Department doesn't have better things to pursue apparently
The justice department isn't three guys sharing a cubicle, I'd imagine they have the people and resources to do more than one thing at a time.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SFjohn Avatar
32 months ago
The DOJ is after ALL the data in your iPhones, they will use every means at their disposal to get it. This is just part of a long-standing effort to break Apples’s lock on providing their customers with serious privacy protection products & services. As for everyone wishing to see Apples’s “walled garden” removed, be careful what you wish for…
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Unregistered 4U Avatar
32 months ago
Epic’s free to redo all of Fortnite in Roblox if that’s the kind of structure they want to follow. Or Minecraft. :)

Uh-oh, apparently Roblox has a marketplace fee as well. So does Minecraft.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)
toobravetosave Avatar
32 months ago

I believe they've drawn some sort of line at taking a cut for digital goods but not physical shopping (i.e. buying actual objects from Amazon, eBay, etc). Whether that's actually how they operate is another matter though.
It's funny this is why you couldn't buy books on kindle or amazon app but could through safari. Can also buy digital codes. Really it's just apple drawing lines in the sand trying to keep whatever 33% cuts they can
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
RVijay007 Avatar
32 months ago
Apple will continue to draw lines around verbal semantics to preserve their tax on the free ideation and development by all developers. "Experiences" vs "Games" ... come on... You can only squeeze creators for so long ....
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
VPrime Avatar
32 months ago
We're a small developer, and our app does something very similar. Our users can make games and share them within our platforms community (and even export to the app store).

We're a nobody, especially compared to Roblox. I don't think roblox is getting a special pass. I think they (like us) have a system in place that works around the current apps tore rules. And we're not alone. There are some of our competing apps that do the same thing.


I don't think Epic has a case here... That being said apple does give special passes to some developers. We've experienced it with other apps in the past.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)