Is Epic Games finally taking their Apple App Store drama to court?
Epic Games & Apple have been butting heads since last year. The gaming company circumvented Apple’s requirement that they receive 30% of all in-app purchases and Apple promptly booted Fortnite – the wildly popular battle royale game – from their mobile app store.
Circumventing Apple meant that people who played Fortnite on the iOS app would only have to pay $7.99 for 1,000 V-Bucks (the in-game currency) rather than $9.99 – and 1,000 V-Bucks doesn’t go very far in that game.
Apple cited that Epic Games intentionally broke the terms of service which Apple provides to anyone making an app available through them. Now, Epic Games is suing Apple over antitrust concerns in the EU. Here’s what you need to know about the unfolding tech drama.
The original argument
In August it became clear that Epic Games had intended to begin a tech war with Apple from the get-go. As soon as the app store hit back by removing Fortnite, the video game began playing a parody of Apple’s old 1984 commercial on a loop in certain areas of the game. This time Apple was the bad guy though.
They also posted the clearly pre-prepared video on all their social medias.
Epic Games painted the picture that they were the champion of people & smaller app companies on the Apple Store, saying that Apple’s rules were unfair and hurt the smaller apps.
Taking it international
Epic Games has apparently decided to put their money where their mouth is. They’re officially suing Apple with an antitrust complaint in the European Union. The claim is that Apple “carefully designed anti-competitive restrictions” and “completely eliminated competition in app distribution and payment processes”.
The Fortnite developers have also made it clear that this isn’t about them – they aren’t asking for a monetary payment with the lawsuit. Instead Epic wants to see “timely and effective remedies” as a result of the court case.
The CEO of Epic Games, Tim Sweeney, stated that they’re looking to see companies like Apple, that provide a platform, stop taking advantage of their control over hardware to enforce control over secondary markets. Sweeney wants to “force them to compete on equal terms with every competitor”. It certainly sounds like a noble cause.
Not just Apple
While Epic Games taking on Apple is what made headlines in August, Epic has also taken aim at Google – for all the exact same reasons. In August Fortnite for Android did the same thing that Fortnite for iOS did – and Google dropped the game app just as fast as Apple did.
Epic Games then sued both Apple & Google for antitrust actions in the United States. Some believe that Epic taking on Google will be a harder road since the Alphabet run company is a little less strict with its app store policies, but Epic decided to sue them for monopolistic behavior anyway.
Fortnite mobile dead?
Despite no longer being able to download the Fortnite app through the Apple or Google app stores you can still play the video game on mobile devices. However, you’ll have to download it through the Fortnite website.
This third-party way of downloading apps is usually avoided because it can contain malware and is usually more difficult than doing so on an app store, but Epic Games is a trusted source and Fortnite gamers are a dedicated bunch who don’t mind jumping through a couple of hoops.
Why is Epic doing this?
Epic Games has now created at least three antitrust lawsuits against tech giant companies – which could cost them an awful lot of money. Why would they do this?
Sure, Epic stands to gain if they win the lawsuits – not having to pay Apple or Google 30% of each in-game purchase would be a huge benefit to them. But is it really worth massive antitrust lawsuits to get that outcome? Or is Epic Games really out here championing smaller app companies by using their status & money to change how big tech affects part of the gaming market?
Epic is not the only antitrust lawsuit against Google right now – and Facebook is readying one for Apple – so Epic is clearly not the only concerned party.