Epic Games developer is suing Apple and Google after both from their app stores for direct payment disputes. For now, they are not even allowing users to download and install Fortnite on phones through their digital marketplaces.
At the heart of the debate is whether Epic is eligible to include a direct payment service in its Fortnite app, bypassing Apple and Google payment systems and up to a 30% Apple and Google fee for each transaction.
Epic’s lawsuit alleges that Apple has become a “behemoth that seeks to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation.”
“Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched and more destructive than the monopoly of the year,” Epic says in the lawsuit. “Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopoly in history.”
Epic’s lawsuit against Google accuses the tech giant of abandoning its idealistic roots and says Android’s claim that it is an open ecosystem is a “broken promise”.
“In 1998, Google was founded as an exciting new company with a unique motto: ‘Do not be sorry,'” the complaint states. “Twenty-two years later, Google has rejected its motto in almost a generation. , and is using its size to do harm to competitors, innovators, customers and users in a host of markets that has grown to monopolize. “Google declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Apple earlier on Thursday said it chose to remove Fortnite from the App Store because the game violated guidelines that Apple says apply equally to any developer and that were created to keep the store safe.
“As a result, their Fortnite app has been removed from the store,” Apple said in a statement, adding that it will work with Epic to resolve the issue. “Epic enabled a feature in its app that was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the clear intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to any developer selling merchandise or digital services. “
Google also cited Epic’s breach of rules as the reason it pushed Fortnite out of its digital marketplace. Consumers can still download the game to Android phones using other app stores, such as the Galaxy Store for Samsung devices.
“While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies,” said a Google spokesman. “However, we look forward to continuing our discussions with Epic and bringing Fortnite back to Google Play.”
Apple and Google’s decisions to ban Fortnite from their respective stores mark a dramatic escalation in the debate between tech giants, developers making programs for their devices, and regulators interested in examining them all. Apple’s iOS and Apple Android apps together empower almost all mobile devices in the world. This impact has rebuilt the tech industry and the world’s largest economy, helping to create businesses in life like Uber’s welcome and delivery company, game developer Zynga and ByteDance’s TikTok social network.
But the company’s control over their respective platforms has drawn complaints from some developers who say Apple forces developers to pay commissions for many in-app purchases, with no alternative. And they complain that Google forces partners to merge and promote their apps on their devices. Both companies have also been accused of building on the preference of their respective applications, rather than allowing fair competition.
Apple and Google argued that their developer guidelines protect users and ensure equal treatment with app developers, who have made millions of apps for both platforms combined. Critics of Apple and Google meanwhile say the companies are too restrictive and that they get too much commission for trading on their platforms.
In the past year, lawmakers and regulators have begun joining developers in this debate,and its tight control over its platform, while also proving Google behavior.
Apple in particular has responded by citing a commissioned study that says its tariffs are similar to those of its peers, with the notable exception of Epic, which charges a 12% tariff for its gaming store.
“Apple commissions are comparable to or lower than the commissions charged by most of our competitors,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.. “And they’re much lower than the 50% to 70% that software developers pay to distribute their work before we start the App Store.”
The company has still come under criticism for its tariffs, leading music giant Spotify and other companies to file complaints to the European Union Competition Commission. The EU launched two investigations into Apple in June,and its handling of the technology behind its Apple Pay payment service.
“Apple appears to have taken on a ‘watchdog’ role when it comes to distributing apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices,” EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement at the time. “We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, such as its Apple Music streaming service or Apple Books.”
Cook countered those concerns in his July statement to the US Congress.
“After launching 500 apps, today the App Store expects more than 1.7 million – only 60 of which are Apple software,” Cook said. “Clearly, if Apple is a gatekeeper, what we have done is open the widest gateway. We want to get every app we can in the store, not keep them.”
For now iOS users who have already downloaded Fortnite to their device appear to be able to take full advantage of the app, including new access to in-game purchases.
A battle royale over pay
Epic preceded his public war with Apple with a series of high-profile moves.
The company’s first step was to offer a discount for its hit game Fortnite Battle Royale, which brings together up to 100 people on a cartoon simulated island. There, they fight until the last player stays (and thus wins the match). Fortnite’s design hit it big; the game is simple to understand but hard to master. Her vivid and vivid, blood-free and blood-drawn cartoon images that are typical of most fighting games make her more likable to families and pretensions. And it’s free to download, with the only charges coming from “V-Bucks”, in-game tokens that players can use.
On Thursday, Epic announced a permanent discount of up to 20% if players buy V-Bucks directly from Epic. But it decided to keep prices where they were if players bought through Apple or Google payment system. As a result, the 1,000 V-Bucks will cost you $ 9.99 if you go through the Apple or Google system, but only $ 7.99 directly from Epic.
“Currently, when using payment options for Apple and Google, Apple and Google collect a 30% fee, and the price drop of up to 20% does not apply,” Epic wrote in a blog post earlier Thursday. “If Apple or Google reduce their payment rates in the future, Epic will pass the savings on to you.”
Shortly afterwards, Apple removed the Epic app from its store, triggering the Epic lawsuit. Epic also posted a video online mimicking the famous Apple ad from the Macintosh from 1984, this time accusing Apple of being the bad guy instead of the hero.
The video ended with a suggested hashtag, #FreeFortnite, which became the main trending article worldwide on Twitter within an hour of its posting. In the US, Apple dropped to second place in the list of highest trends, with Epic in fifth place.
This is not the first time Epic has started a public war with one of her peers. Back in 2018, Epic released Fortnite for Android asking people to download the game directly from its site, instead. The company confirmed to CNET that it would have done the same on iOS if it had been able to.
Gamein April, but Epic criticized Google’s efforts to warn Android users of the alleged threats posed by downloading Fortnite directly.
Spotify, which sparked the EU investigation into Apple, applauded Epic’s lawsuit against Apple.
“Apple’s unfair practices have disadvantaged competition and deprived consumers for a long time,” a Spotify spokesman said in a statement. “The amount for consumers and developers of large and small applications could not be higher, and ensuring that the iOS platform operates competitively and fairly is an urgent task with wide implications.”
Epic chose other public wars as well. In late 2018, it took over Valve, a well-known game developer and developer of the Steam online gaming store, when it launched. The company promised lower commission fees to developers and got started to popular games, such as Metro: Exodus and Borderlands 3.
“Many of these issues are areas where you will not please everyone,” said Epic CEO Tim Sweeney. “The Epic Games Store exclusives have been controversial among the PC gaming community that many prefer everything to be on Steam, however it is the most powerful way to ensure the success of a new store.”
CNET’s Ry Crist, Joan E. Solsman and Sean Keane contributed to this report.