Epic Sues After Apple Removes Fortnite from App Store

Posted on August 13, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Games, iOS, iPadOS, Mobile, Mobile gaming with 120 Comments

UPDATE: Google also later removed Fortnite from its Google Play Store so Epic launched a similar lawsuit against the search giant as well. –Paul

Apple removed Fortnite from its app store after Epic implemented its own in-app payment system, bypassing Apple’s unfair 30 percent vig. Clearly prepared for this eventuality, Epic quickly sued Apple for abusing its monopoly power.

“Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users,” an Apple statement reads. “As a result[,] their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. 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 regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.”

Epic’s response is, well, epic.

“This case concerns Apple’s use of a series of anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices in markets for the distribution of software applications (‘apps’) to users of mobile computing devices like smartphones and tablets, and the processing of consumers’ payments for digital content used within iOS mobile apps (‘in-app content’),” the Epic lawsuit explains. “Apple imposes unreasonable and unlawful restraints to completely monopolize both markets and prevent software developers from reaching the over one billion users of its mobile devices (e.g., iPhone and iPad) unless they go through a single store controlled by Apple, the App Store, where Apple exacts an oppressive 30 percent tax on the sale of every app. Apple also requires software developers who wish to sell digital in-app content to those consumers to use a single payment processing option offered by Apple, In-App Purchase, which likewise carries a 30 percent tax.”

Epic compares the situation on iOS to that on the Mac, where users are free to download apps from any source and, at most, incur a 3 percent charge for credit card processing fees. “[That’s] a full ten times lower than the exorbitant 30 percent fees Apple applies to its mobile device in-app purchases,” Epic adds.

Epic says it brought the suit to end Apple’s “unfair and anti-competitive” business practices, which Apple uses to “unlawfully maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multibillion-dollar markets: The iOS App Distribution Market, and the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.”

Epic is not seeking any monetary compensation for the injuries it says it has suffered, nor is it seeking favorable treatment, as Apple gives certain large companies like Amazon that complained about its practices in the past. It simply wants fair competition in “two key markets that directly affect hundreds of millions of consumers and tens of thousands, if not more, of third-party app developers.”

Bravo, Epic. Bravo.

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