Epic Games Sues Apple, Google After Removal Of Fortnite From App Stores

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Epic Games Sues Apple, Google After Removal Of Fortnite From App Stores

Epic Games Sues Apple, Google After Removal Of Fortnite From App Stores

Epic Games has sued both Apple and Google for removing Fortnite from their app stores on Thursday. This move escalates the dispute between the companies that has been brewing over the recent weeks. The issue stems from a long-standing Apple App Store rule that states that apps must offer billing through Apple and pay them 30% of revenue.

Epic Games began offering customers a way to directly buy items for Fortnite on Thursday so as they could circumvent the fees. And just hours later, Apple pulled the app off their App Store and Google did the same soon after.

The companies behind the iOS and Google Play app stores said they removed Fortnite because its developer, Epic Games, violated their guidelines by announcing a way for players to buy in-game currency without using Apple and Google’s proprietary payment systems.
It quickly became clear that the suits were not a spur of the moment decision by Epic. The complaints ran to 60 pages each, and one of the lawyers involved is Christine Varney, who ran the Justice Department’s antitrust division during the Obama administration.
Epic then added insult to injury, releasing a video parodying Apple’s iconic “1984” ad, casting Apple in the role of villain. It also threw Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” slogan back at the tech company, and accused the firm of having “relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought.”
 

First Apple, then Google:

The controversy began when Epic Games announced Thursday it will offer a permanent 20% discount on Fortnite’s in-game currency if players purchase directly from Epic.
In a blog post, Epic said players could not get the discount if they paid via Apple or Google.
 

Epic Games told their customers on Thursday that they would begin offering a direct purchase plan for items in Fortnite and instead of paying fees to Apple and Google, they would pass on the savings to customers. Epic Games offered discounts of as much as 20% through its service.

Google said in an emailed statement the move violated its store policies but that Fortnite is still available through other means on Android.

Apple said in an email statement that they removed Fortnite since Epic Games’ in-game changes had the intent of violating App Store guidelines. Apple said that its store has helped in Epic Games’ success over the decades and that it offers a level playing field for business. Google also issued a similar statement but added that Android allows for multiple app stores, unlike Apple.

Epic Games responded by filing a lawsuit in a California district court alleging that Apple’s rules with respect to its app store and related payments is anti-competitive. Epic said that they are not seeking money but want Apple’s practices to be stopped.

Epic Games mentioned in the lawsuit that if not for Apple’s ‘illegal restraints’, they would have provided a competing app store on Apple devices. A couple of hours later, Epic Games filed a complaint against Google as well accusing them of anti-competitive behaviour.

Fortnite has had more than 350 million players over the years, according to the lawsuit, and removing the app from the App Store means losing access to more than a billion iPhone and iPad customers. According to Sensor Tower, sales through the App Store made $32.8 billion for Epic Games in the first half of 2020 which is 20% more that what it made a year earlier.

Grievances over the fees Apple charges developers have reached a boiling point now after developers complaining for years about Apple’s 15% to 30% fees for the App Store. Apple CEO Tim Cook was recently grilled over this issue at a US Congressional hearing alongside other technology chiefs.

Apple is also facing scrutiny from the European Commission over antitrust complaints and this is an investigation that Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has openly supported. Spotify Technology SA, which has waged a similar battle with Apple, said in a statement that it supports Epic Games’ crusade against Apple.

Sweeney has also criticised Google, which has a policy similar to Apple. He described the two companies as a duopoly in an interview with Bloomberg Television last month.

Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple invokes George Orwell’s 1984. Shortly after Fortnite was pulled, the official Twitter account promoted a new video short called Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite. 

The game came to the Play Store in April, but Epic criticized Google’s efforts to warn Android users about the alleged threats posed by downloading Fortnite directly. Spotify, which instigated the EU’s investigation of Apple, applauded Epic’s suit against Apple.

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