Apple Grants Temporary Reprieve on 30% Fee to SMBs Running Facebook Paid Online Events

The exemption runs through Dec. 31 but does not include gaming creators

The payment flow for Facebook paid online events on iOS (left) and Android (right) Facebook
Headshot of David Cohen

Apple reversed course and agreed not to collect its 30% iTunes App Store cut of paid online event transactions via Facebook through the end of this year, paving the way for the social network to enable businesses to keep 100% of their earnings from paid online events from now through Dec. 31.

Apple’s exception does not apply to Facebook Gaming creators.

The social network introduced the option in August for page administrators of pages for businesses, creators, educators and media publishers to create online events, set prices for “attending,” promote those events, collect payments and host the events.

Facebook said at the time that it would not collect any fees from paid online events through at least August 2021.

Apple initially declined Facebook’s requests to waive its 30% fee or to allow Facebook to offer its Facebook Pay payments feature via iOS, before agreeing to the former Friday.

Facebook company spokesperson Joe Osborne said in a statement, “This is a difficult time for small businesses and creators, which is why we are not collecting any fees from paid online events while communities remain closed for the pandemic. Apple has agreed to provide a brief, three-month respite, after which struggling businesses will have to, yet again, pay Apple the full 30% App Store tax.”

Facebook Gaming vice president Vivek Sharma lamented the exclusion of gaming creators from Apple’s exemption, saying in a statement, “Apple’s decision to not collect its 30% tax on paid online events comes with a catch: Gaming creators are excluded from using Facebook Pay in paid online events on iOS. We unfortunately had to make this concession to get the temporary reprieve for other businesses. For any Facebook Gaming creator who wants to use paid online events, we are not collecting any fees for purchases on Facebook desktop until at least August 2021. We know times are tough, and we’ll continue to help our gaming creator community wherever we can.”

The stand-alone Facebook Gaming application was released via the iTunes App Store in August, minus games, as the social network could not reach an agreement with Apple on the inclusion of Instant Games.

Apple cited an iTunes App Store guideline stating that HTML5 games are permitted as long as “code distribution isn’t the primary purpose of the app,” while Facebook countered that playing games is not the app’s primary purpose, as 95% of activity on the Android Facebook Gaming app is made up of people watching livestreams, while just 5% is from users playing games. David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.