Fortnite Developer Epic Games Takes Apple App Store Payment Fight to EU Antitrust Regulators

2021-02-17 08:25:13

Fortnite creator Epic Games has taken its fight against Apple to EU antitrust regulators after failing to make headway in a US court in a dispute over the iPhone maker’s payment system on its App Store and control over apps downloads.

The two companies have been locked in a legal dispute since August last year when the game maker tried to get around Apple’s 30 percent fee on some in-app purchases on the App Store by launching its own in-app payment system.

That prompted Apple to kick Epic’s Fortnite game off the App Store and threaten to terminate an affiliated account that would have effectively blocked distribution of Unreal Engine, a software tool used by hundreds of app makers to create games.

Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said Apple’s control of its platform has tilted the level playing field.

“The 30 percent they charge as their app tax, they can make it 50 percent or 90 percent or 100 percent. Under their theory of how these markets are structured, they have every right to do that,” he told reporters.

“Epic is not asking any court or regulator to change this 30 percent to some other number, only to restore competition on iOS,” he said, referring to Apple’s mobile operating system.

The company also accused Apple of barring rivals from launching their own gaming subscription service on its platform by preventing them from bundling several games together – when its own service, called Apple Arcade, does that.

Apple said its rules apply equally to all developers and that Epic had violated them.

“In ways a judge has described as deceptive and clandestine, Epic enabled a feature in its app, which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines that apply equally to every developer and protect customers,” the company said in a statement.

“Their reckless behaviour made pawns of customers, and we look forward to making this clear to the European Commission,” it said.

The Commission, which is investigating Apple’s mobile payment system Apple Pay and the App Store, declined to comment on the complaint, saying it was aware of the concerns regarding Apple’s App Store rules.

Epic Games has also complained to the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal and to the Australian watchdog, at the same time seeking damages. It has not asked the EU enforcers for damages.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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