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Court Rules Against Apple in Fortnite Lawsuit. Will In-App Purchases Return to comiXology?

Fortnite

In a decision that is sure to be appealed, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of Epic Games in its lawsuit against Apple. The lawsuit was over Apple’s requirement that they get 30% of the revenue from purchases made within apps on their site. The fight began over Epic’s game Fortnite, a massive revenue generator.

In 2020, Apple removed Fortnite from the iOS store after Epic offered a discount on V-Bucks purchased outside of the App store. The move was in response to Apple collected 30% of profits made from purchases on Apple devices. Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple in August 2020 as well as an awareness campaign #FreeFortnite.

Here’s the key part of Judge Yvonne Gonzalez-Rogers’ decision:

The Court, having considered the evidence presented at the bench trial in this matter and consistent with its findings of fact and conclusions of law, HEREBY ORDERS as follows:

1. Apple Inc. and its officers, agents, servants, employees, and any person in active concert or participation with them (“Apple”), are hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links, or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanisms, in addition to In-App Purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.

The Judge felt that while it isn’t an issue of monopoly, Apple’s requirement is anticompetitive.

In 2022, Apple can no longer require purchaes in games or apps on Apple devices to go through Apples’ App Store. That opens up developers to have their own marketplaces. The injuction takes place December 9 unless a higher court intervenes. Epic also filed a similar lawsuit against Google in July 2021 which will be interesting to see how that plays out.

In recent days Apple had already loosen restrictions when it came to purchases due to a class-action lawsuit as well as an antitrust investigation in Japan.

Why is this relevant to comiXology and comic fans?

In 2014, comiXology announced they were changing their purchasing process where digital comics would have to be bought through the comiXology website. It was speculated that Apple’s cut of the purchases was the reason for the change.

Now, will we see a shift by comiXology back to easier purchasing on Apple devices after this latest decision? There’s some key signs to watch for that might be in the works but with the court decision still having a chance for appeal, don’t expect changes any time soon.

Marvel Unlimited Gets a Boost with New Exclusive Comics and Upgrades

Marvel Unlimited

Marvel has revealed after days of teasing that Marvel Unlimited is getting some updates, a new look, as well as new exclusive comics.

Taking a queue from popular webcomics like Webtoons, Marvel has launched “Infinity Comics“. The new comics are designed for phones and tablets and are exclusive to Marvel Unlimited. New issues will drop every week and features creators like Jonathan Hickman and Skottie Young. Hickman is writing X-Men Unlimited with Young taking on Giant-Size Little Marvels.

This a big focus of Marvel’s with the launch of 27 comics available today and a plan for 100 by the end of the year. While other publishers have partnered with popular platforms, Marvel seems to be taking a different path and keeping things “in house”.

“Infinity Comics” will also be in-universe which opens up a world of possibilites. Will key events happen in these comics? The move echoes Marvel Studios’ move of integrating their big screen theatrical releases with their Disney+ show releases forcing die-hard fans to subscribe and keep up with everything.

Beyond new comics, there’s also updates to the platform.

  • Unlimited Downloads – you can now download as many comics as you’d like for off-line reading. The previous limit was 12 issues. You can also now save an entire series with just one tap instead of issue by issue
  • Follow Characters, Series, and Creators – It’s now easier to follow what you enjoy
  • Loyalty Program – this is now integrated into the app making it easier to earn points by doing tasks liek starting and finishing comics

Marvel Unlimited currently features over 29,000 comics for $9.99 a month or $69 a year. For $99 you get a year subscription and a membership kit and other perks.

ComiXology Rolls Out Changes and Updates this Fall

It’s been a long time coming, but comiXology has announced some changes and updates coming to the app and store this Fall. The digital comics platform was purchased by Amazon in 2014 and it was only a matter of time before greater integration between Amazon’s platform and comiXology. Some of that has happened already with a single sign on and the ability to purchase comics on Kindle and read them on comiXology but there’s been some other upgrades missing.

In an email to comiXology users today, co-founder and CEO of comiXology David Steinberger announced new updates coming soon to the app and platform.

Here are some of the changes users can expect:

  • Upgraded comiXology app will feature flexible filtering and sorting, and some fun book navigation features.
  • A revamped digital comics shopping experience on Amazon where you’ll be able to browse, buy, and borrow books to read on either the comiXology or Kindle app. You can visit the new shopping experience today as we continue to bring new features online. ComiXology.com will redirect to this new experience when they launch.
  • Faster, more reliable downloads on Android and iOS devices. Plus read-while-downloading is new for Android customers.
  • Kindle Unlimited and Prime members will be able to borrow from a large library of graphic novels and manga on the comiXology app, in select countries.
  • ComiXology purchases will be readable on Kindle apps and devices. Soon, you’ll also be able to read purchases from comiXology on the Kindle app, giving more flexibility to decide where and how you read your books.

The biggest notable change is the old comiXology website going away and redirecting to Amazon’s website. The interface is quite different and it’ll be interesting to see what type of curation it’ll bring as the comiXology website does a solid job of highlighting different series and reading experiences. There’s sure to be speculation and doomsayers focusing in on this major change, and it’s a big one. But, Amazon still potentially brings strength to the comic industry through comiXology with the best data set to leverage and “find” new readers. Whether this is the future we’ll see remains to be seen but, these steps indicate a tighter integration that has been years in the making.

Scout Comics’ Wave Two Comic Tags Are Now Available!

The second wave of Scout Comics Comic Tags have been revealed and are now available. The second wave includes Grit, Metalshark Bro: Volume One, Once Our Land: Volume One, Solar Flare: Season Two, Heavenly Blues, The Shepherd: Volume One, Smoketown, and Infernoct.

Scout has hinted more publishers are coming on board in the future.

Comic Tags is a way to both distribute and collect digital comic books that addresses some of the biggest problems that comic publishers and comic collectors face. Comic Tags are a hybrid of comic books and trading cards.

These limited edition collectible cards each have a unique scratch off code to download a PDF copy of the graphic novel featured on the card. They’re attached to hangable backers that open, close, and look like a mini-comic book. These backers have interiors that are pulled right from the comic, giving you a glimpse at what you’re getting and a fun art piece to hang on to along with the collectible card.

Comic Tags have a price point lower than buying typical print and digital trade paperbacks. Most graphic novels are priced between $14.99 and $29.99 each.

Like the first wave release, the second wave of Comic Tags are launching at a retail price of only $6.99 each. For collectors, it’s a fraction of the trade paperback price. For publishers, it’s a whole new product line and profitable way to sell their digital books.

DC Launches the First Batman Augmented Reality App

Batman: Knightwatch

 DC today announced the release of the ultimate Batman mobile experience for kids ages 6-12, the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app, a one-of-a-kind free mobile app available today on the App Store and Google Play stores in 13 different languages around the world. Immersing kids in narrative-driven, technology-inspired activities, the new app lets kids join Batman’s crime-fighting team, the Knightwatch and experience the world of Batman, learning how to use his Bat-Tech to fight crime and help defend Gotham City from his evil adversaries.The DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app is COPPA compliant and free to download and play. 

Developed in conjunction with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, the new DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app features first-of-its-kind augmented reality (AR) technology to engage kids and immerse them in the world of the iconic DC Super Hero who uses crime-fighting tech to help him foil the evil deeds of The Joker, Mr. Freeze, The Riddler and other DC Super-Villains. In addition to learning about Batman’s technology through the app’s AR storytelling features, kids can play mini games, transform photos with AR face filters and stickers, read exclusive digital comics, watch Batman Bat-Tech themed video content and gain access to the Batcomputer, the super-computer where Batman’s tech secrets are stored.

At launch, the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app features:

  • Augmented reality (AR) missions: Through the new app’s AR features, kids become a member of Batman’s new Knightwatch team and immerse themselves in original Batman crime-fighting missions. The amazing AR provides a realistic 3D experience that draws upon engineering and design concepts to make Batman’s Bat-Tech come to life.
  • Mini games:  Users can play a Batman-themed mobile driving game where players test their skills at driving the Batmobile; Batarang Practice where players face off against the clock and find out how many targets they can knock down; and the Grapnel Launcher game where players must run and jump while utilizing Batman’s abilities to overcome obstacles.
  • AR face filters: Kids can transform into Batman, The Joker, Batgirl and more of Gotham City’s most iconic characters using these fun filters and can save photos and share them with friends and family.
  • Sticker packs: Users can decorate photos with a variety of Batman-themed stickers, turning an ordinary shot into a cool Batman story.
  • Batman Bat-Tech video content: The app connects to the extremely popular DCKids’ YouTube channel.  A new series, entitled “Batman Science Lab” will launch this fall exploring the real-world applications of Batman’s technology.
  • New missions, games, filters, sticker packs, and video content will be added and updated on a regular basis to keep the app experience fresh and fun for kids.

Additionally, launching exclusively on the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition app is a digital comic series, Batman – Knightwatch, where kids can explore how the Knightwatch program was created and follow along with Batman and his Super Hero team as they take on Gotham’s City’s Super-Villains following a massive breakout at Arkham Asylum. Additional digital comics will be added to the app on a regular basis.

Fans can download the DC: Batman Bat-Tech Edition today and help Batman save Gotham City.  Available for free on the App Store and the Google Play store, the app is playable on both tablets and smart phones. The app is available globally and is localized in 13 different languages.

GlobalComix adds Reactions and In-Reader Comments

GlobalComix has announced a new update to its digital comic reader, version 3. The update expands how readers can interact with creators and each other.

The service now features Reactions, sets of emojis readers can use in response to releases. It’s an easy way to show reactions such as positive, neutral, and negative. It will also help the system learn what each reader likes and is interested in.

Also new is In-Reader Comments. It’s an extension of the previous comments system but these are in the reading experience. You’ll now be able to @mention individuals too.

LibraryPass and Yen Press Announce Digital Access for Libraries and Schools Through Comics Plus

Yen Press, Comics Plus

LibraryPass, Inc. has announced a distribution agreement with Yen Press to make a selection of their digital catalog available to libraries and schools through Comics Plus. With Comics Plus, readers can access thousands of digital comics, graphic novels, and manga through their school or library—with unlimited simultaneous access for online and offline reading.

Yen Press will be adding more than 100 titles to Comics Plus, featuring dozens of original titles and popular licenses of interest to readers young and old.

Founded in 2006, Yen Press has quickly risen to become one of the largest and most prolific publishers of manga and original graphic novels in North America, including popular series like Kingdom Hearts, Maximum Ride, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children: The Graphic Novel. JY was founded as a middle-grade imprint in the fall of 2017 and includes the acclaimed Awkward and Brave graphic novels by Svetlana Chmakova, as well as brand new JY releases, such as Kyle’s Little Sister by BonHyung Jeong.

GlobalComix Releases an All-New Digital Reader

GlobalComix has announced a completely new digital reader that was rebuilt from the ground up with three goals in mind: performance, intuitiveness, and mobile gesture support. The new reader also improves the vertical reading experience — especially on mobile devices — and introduces new features to give users more information about the comic they’re viewing within the reading experience.

Here is a breakdown of the updates:

  • General reading experience: the vertical layout has been completely rewritten, including support for browser-native pan-zoom-pinch
  • Improved reader settings: an option to always use the vertical reader layout, and customization options for image spacing and header display
  • Comic info panel: a new “series info” pane that lists all the meta-data for the comic and all the available releases for easy back-and-forth navigation
  • Crowdfinder integration: comics that have a crowdfunding campaign active now display the details at the top of the reader
  • Footer credits & suggested comics: credits to the creator/publisher, as well as suggestions for other comics the user might like, are displayed at the bottom of the comic

Substack Getting Into Comics with Nick Spencer Guiding

Substack

Business Insider via The Beat has the news that Substsack is expanding its pay newsletter model to comics with Nick Spencer leading the project. Substack is a newsletter service where individuals pay to be on lists and receive messages.

The plan would move into the comic space with and Substack is already experimenting with fiction authors. According to The Beat‘s reporting, the plan is to pay prominent writers a substantial upfront and take the majority of the subscription fees. The platform would take a 10% cut after a year.

Substack has had a lot of issues being charged with enabling bigotry. It has become a haven for alt-right individuals and alt-right adjacent regressive attitudes. Any comic creator who takes part in this will likely be pressed on the controversy.

The concept is nothing new and sounds not too different than Patreon or some webcomic platforms. There individuals pay for updates or to get comics in small chunks. Numerous platforms have experimented with “micro” comics with only a few breaking through with a scalable model.

We’ll have updates when the news is officially announced.

Diamond’s Pullbox Launches on June 7

Previewsworld Pullbox

Diamond Comic Distributors has announced June 7, 2021 as the official launch of PREVIEWSworld PULLBOX to consumers, a new service that allows comic shop customers a better way to manage their preorders and subscriptions with their local comic book specialty shop. PULLBOX was announced in February 2018 and “slated for release later” that Spring.

The service, which is currently wrapping up beta testing, already boasts an impressive list of existing users. There are currently more than 300 comic shops and 17,000+ consumers using PULLBOX to manage their weekly orders. PULLBOX users are managing more than 225,000 subscriptions on the platform, which supports the full list of products available Diamond’s PREVIEWS catalog and beyond, including fan-favorites Image Comics, Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, IDW Publishing, Dynamite Entertainment, BOOM! Studios, VIZ Media, Funko, Kotobukiya, Mezco Toyz, Diamond Select Toys, and many more!

PULLBOX allows fans to use the PREVIEWSworld website to place orders directly with their local comic shop. A suite of easy-to-use tools allows consumers to synch orders with participating local comic shops, manage preorders & subscriptions, place special orders, keep a wish list, and track weekly purchases. It also provides customers with e-mail alerts for order confirmations and when items are available for pickup.

PULLBOX will officially launch to consumers June 7. Consumers interested in setting up a PULLBOX account can visit PREVIEWSworld.com/PULLBOX starting June 7.

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