Fortnite maker sues Apple & Google after app store removal
Google, Apple and Alphabet on Thursday removed the popular video game Fortnite from their app stores for violating in-app payment and in-app purchases, prompting developer Epic Games to file antitrust lawsuits challenging their rules and accusing them of anti-competitive behavior.
On Thursday, Epic Games challenged not only Apple, but Google as well, introducing a new way to buy discounted clothing and weapons for characters in the app by paying Epic Games directly instead of using Apple’s in-app shopping service, which is required for digital goods. Apple accounts for 30% of these sales.
Apple and Google Called Direct Payments Option Deployed in Fortnite App as Violation.
Epic has filed a lawsuit in a U.S. court, seeking not monetary compensation from Apple or Google, but an injunction that they believe would end the companies’ bad practices with regard to their app stores..
«Apple has become what it once opposed: a monster that seeks to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, stronger and more dangerous than the monopolists of the past», – According to Epic’s lawsuit filed in the Northern District of California.
Epic also attacked Apple by creating a parody of the famous Apple TV ad. «1984», and via social media, launching a campaign with the hashtag #FreeFortnite, urging players to seek reimbursement from Apple if they are denied access to the game.
In a parody that quickly garnered hundreds of thousands of views, a female Fortnite fighter throws a unicorn-shaped baton to shatter a screen where an Apple-headed character talks about «anniversary of the platform unification directives».
Apple takes a 15% to 30% cut for most in-app subscriptions and in-app payments, although there are some exceptions for companies that already have a credit card for iPhone customers if they also offer in-app payments that go to Apple’s favor.
Analysts believe games are the largest contributor to user spending on the App Store, which is the largest component of Apple’s services segment, with $ 46.3 billion in annual revenue..
Apple said in a statement that Fortnite was removed because Epic launched a payment feature with «clear intent to violate App Store policies».
«The fact that their (Epic’s) business interests now force them to insist on a special agreement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users.», – Apple said.
Google has also removed Fortnite from its Play Store, but a company spokesperson Dan Jackson declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by Reuters.
«However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.», – he said in a statement. Jackson said Epic violated the rule that developers must use Google’s in-game billing system for video game products. Apple and Google were among the largest U.S. tech companies to be subject to anti-competitive scrutiny in hearings before lawmakers last month..
During the hearing, the CEO of Apple Tim Cook argued that Apple is not anticompetitive because it does not have a controlling stake in the markets in which it does business, including mobile phones, where Android devices from Alphabet Inc. have a large share.
However, Epic’s lawsuit argued that app distribution and in-game payments for Apple devices represent a separate market for anti-competition purposes, as Apple users rarely leave. «sticky» ecosystem.
Free video game «Fortnite» by Epic in the genre «battle royale» has gained immense popularity among young gamers since its launch in 2017 and competes with «PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds» by Tencent Holdings.
Removing a game from the App Store means that new players will not be able to download it and existing players will not be able to receive updates, but the game should continue to work on devices that already have it installed.
Epic Games did not disclose how many iOS users Fortnite has. Many fans play the game primarily on PCs or game consoles, using their mobile phones as a backup, but iPhone users bring in much more revenue for Epic..
Fortnite had nearly 2 million downloads in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store in July 2020, according to mobile analytics company SensorTower. But according to SensorTower, Apple users spent about $ 34 million and Android users only $ 2 million..
Since Android works differently than iOS, users can still download «Fortnite» from the Epic website and other non-Google stores such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd store and install it on your devices.
«Epic is not seeking any monetary indulgence, but rather only instructing Google to stop continuing to impose its anti-competitive behavior on the Android ecosystem.», – says the company’s lawsuit.
Spotify Technology SA, Apple’s streaming music rival that has filed antitrust lawsuits against the iPhone maker in Europe, and the Match Group, which has publicly complained about Apple’s rules, praised Epic’s actions against the tech giant..
«We applaud Epic Games’ decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple’s abuse of dominance», – said a Spotify spokesman Adam Grossberg in a statement to CNBC.
Epic Games wants to create its own gaming marketplace that works across all platforms including iPhone, Android, and Windows. One of the main benefits of the Epic Games store for game developers is lower purchase fees..