Monday, January 29, 2024

App Marketplaces: AltStore and Epic Games Store


We’ve started the process of becoming a legitimate “app marketplace”, allowing our European friends to download @delta and other AltStore apps officially for the first time ever!

See you in March ☘️

Jacob Kastrenakes:

Epic plans to launch the Epic Games Store on the iPhone this year in the European Union — and it’s bringing Fortnite back to the platform along with it.

The announcement comes after Apple shared how it will open up iOS in response to the EU’s crackdown on Big Tech. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney described Apple’s rules as “hot garbage,” but they are clearly not so hot as to keep Epic away altogether.

Juli Clover:

Apple is charging an 0.50 euro fee per user per year for apps installed outside of the App Store (and in the App Store for developers who opt in to the new terms and also still choose to use Apple’s system), but there are no App Store commissions or in-app fees. While Apple is waiving fees for the first one million installs, the 0.50 per user fee will cost app developers like Epic Games a notable amount of money. Sweeney called Apple’s payment “junk fees.”

Manton Reece:

Reviewing news coverage of the Core Technology Fee, usually glossed over is that the CTF applies to every install of a marketplace.


Because marketplaces will usually be free, this makes it nearly impossible for them to work without charging developers just as much as Apple does, or having enough cash that it can lose money. Everything in Apple’s rules is designed to prevent anyone from using this.

Benedek Kozma:

Marketplaces have to pay CTF for all “first annual installs”, not just 1M+. Non-profits don’t have to pay the CTF but can only install apps from developers who also have the fee waivered.

Epic would have to pay the Core Technology Fee twice, both for the Fortnite app itself and for the marketplace app that’s used to download Fortnite. Plus, since marketplaces are supposed to be open to apps within a given category, Epic would also have the overhead of managing and reviewing whatever apps other developers submit to their marketplace.

See also:


Update (2024-01-30): John Gruber:

One problem I see with the Core Technology Fee is that it doesn’t seem compatible with the concept of completely free-of-charge apps from developers who aren’t registered non-profits, educational institutions, or governments. What we used to call freeware back in the day.

Update (2024-03-01): Joe Rossignol:

MacPaw today announced that Setapp will be available as an alternative app marketplace on the iPhone in the EU starting in April. Those wanting access to the beta version can join a waitlist, and developers interested in the platform can apply on this page.

Update (2024-03-05): Filipe Espósito:

As detailed by the company in a press release, mobivention’s App Marketplace will let developers distribute B2B and B2C apps to their customers outside the iOS App Store. “The mobivention App marketplace is primarily aimed at business customers who are looking for an alternative solution for distributing their apps,” mobivention explains.

Developers and companies working with mobivention will have “simplified rules for publishing apps” compared to Apple’s App Store, which makes the platform more appealing to enterprise apps.


Not only that, but mobivention will also provide white label solutions so that large corporations can offer their own App Marketplace to iOS users in the EU.

Update (2024-03-22): Juli Clover:

For games distributed through the Epic Games Store, Epic will collect a 12 percent share of revenue, which is the same fee that it charges on Windows and Mac machines. Apps will get 100 percent of the revenue they earn for the first six months, with Epic taking no cut, and there are no fees for apps that offer in-game purchases and use their own payment processing method.

Update (2024-03-29): Steve Troughton-Smith:

One thing @altstore does that should really get you thinking about alternative payment systems that Apple never would have considered: it has Patreon integration, and can tie access to apps to your Patreon pledge — which gives you an entirely different, personal relationship with your users, and lets you use the same reward system you use for videos, blog posts, merch etc. Alternative app stores don’t just have to recreate Apple’s model. And this provides a CTF-friendly avenue (and 1M user cap)

Update (2024-04-09): Callum Booth:

Currently, the new version of AltStore is deep in Apple’s approval process and will be ready to go live once it gets the thumbs up from the company. Thankfully, we’ve already had a chance to preview the marketplace and spend some time kicking its tires.


Another potential roadblock to widespread third-party marketplace adoption is just how fiddly it is, with each store taking around a dozen screen interactions to install.

13 Comments RSS · Twitter · Mastodon

I thought Epic had their developer license revoked for breaking the rules. Did they get that back or how did they conclude they can make a Marketpace?

My guess: They didn't get their license back. They know they can't go through with the announced plans. They just want the publicity and put this issue back into the forefront.

@Marcos I believe Epic had multiple accounts, and only the Fortnite one was banned. They could also potentially set up a new legal entity for the marketplace, which would then have its own account.

IIRC Epic didn't get their license back. Apple said if Epic agreed to play by the rules, they'd welcome Epic back.

Epic agreed and Apple said "No."

I agree with @Michael in that I suspect Epic has multiple accounts or will create a new company exclusively for the "Epic Games Store".

I can see how Epic could deploy Fortnite in its own store within Apple's rules and still make a profit, but I can't understand how something like AltStore would even remotely be feasible, given the install fees.

@Sam That’s how I remember it, too.

@Plume Yeah, it seems like AltStore would either have to become a non-profit or a subscription. And even as a subscription it seems risky—you can’t make the customer uninstall the marketplace app, so you owe the CTF every year even if they are no longer subscribed. And from the developer side, if you change to the new payment terms so that you can be in a marketplace, and that marketplace ceases to exist, you’re stuck.

It’s my understanding that you can’t have a nonprofit App Store unless every app / developer in that store is also a nonprofit… ?

For the freeware developers, can't they continue to use the App Store without cost, as long as they stay on the original App Store business model?

@DJ Yes, but then they’re restricted to making apps that follow Apple’s guidelines, and they have to deal with App Review uncertainties, and use App Store Connect, etc.

And they still have to pay $99 each year anyway to Apple. Because "every one can code as long as they pay Apple's tax".

You only have to pay if you want to distribute apps through the store though, right?

@DJ I think you have to pay the $99 either way because you still need an Apple developer account for notarization, etc.

I was thinking more about the "everyone can code" part. Anyone can download Xcode and write apps for themselves, and even load them onto their own devices, without paying the $99.

@DJ Yes, I believe you can load apps to your own iPhone without a developer account, but isn’t there a provisioning time limit? And a limit on which Apple services they can use?

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