Fortnite maker Epic Games has sued Apple and Google in the United Kingdom over its removal of the battle royale action game from its Apple App Store for iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad, and the Google Play Store for Android mobile devices.
In a filing with the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal (CTA), Epic claims that Apple is unfairly restricting competition from other app stores (the Apple App Store is the de facto space to buy apps and make in-app purchases), not allowing app developers to use their own payment processing services, and charging unfair fees on sales (Apple takes a cut of anywhere between 15-30% from all purchases).
While Epic alleges many of the same complaints against Google, alternate app stores and means of purchasing apps and content are allowed on Android devices outside of Google Play.
Epic is not seeking monetary damages (as highlighted in a statement below); instead, it is asking the CTA to compel both Apple and Google to reinstate Epic’s removed software and accounts, allow developers to use payment-processing systems in their apps (including their own) not owned by the platform owners, and let consumers download Epic’s software outside of the App Store and Google Play.
Epic issued the following statement to The Esports Observer, from Tera Randall, VP communications and policy, Epic Games:
“Epic Games has launched legal proceedings against Apple and Google in the United Kingdom, expanding its fight to advance fair digital platform practices for consumers and developers.
“The legal proceedings, filed in London’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, allege the conduct of both Apple and Google in their respective app stores is an abuse of a dominant position and in breach of the UK’s competition laws, substantially reducing competition in app distribution and payment processes.
“We believe that this is an important argument to make on behalf of consumers and developers in the UK and around the world who are impacted by Apple and Google’s misuse of market power. We look forward to making our case on January 21.
“As Epic is not seeking damages from Apple or Google in the UK, Australia, or the US, it is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit all consumers.”
The legal fight between Apple (and to a smaller degree, with Google) and Epic over Fortnite and in-app purchases started in August of 2020 when the developer added a direct payment method for users to purchase in-game content that circumvented Apple’s built-in payment system on iOS. Apple deemed this a breach of contract, which led to the game being removed from the App Store.
Apple also tried to remove Epic’s developer status related to Unreal Engine 4, but a U.S. District Court issued a preliminary injunction against that move. Epic’s game development platform is used by thousands of mobile games, including PUBG Mobile and Peacekeeper Elite.
Epic and Apple’s antitrust lawsuit will commence on May 3 in a California federal court. In October of 2020, Epic sued Apple in Australia’s federal court.
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