Epic Files Antitrust Complaint Against Apple in the EU

Posted on February 17, 2021 by Paul Thurrott in Apple, Games, iOS, Mobile, Mobile gaming with 32 Comments

Epic is stepping up its legal battle against Apple’s anticompetitive business practices this week by filing an antitrust complaint with the EU.

“What’s at stake here is the very future of mobile platforms.” Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said in a prepared statement. “Consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing and developers have the right to compete in a fair marketplace. We will not stand idly by and allow Apple to use its platform dominance to control what should be a level digital playing field. It’s bad for consumers, who are paying inflated prices due to the complete lack of competition among stores and in-app payment processing. And it’s bad for developers, whose very livelihoods often hinge on Apple’s complete discretion as to who to allow on the iOS platform, and on which terms.”

The move comes 6 months after Epic filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple in the United States after Apple removed Epic’s game Fortnite from its App Store. Not surprisingly, the complaints are nearly identical: Epic alleges that Apple carefully designed a series of anticompetitive restrictions to not just harm but eliminate competition in app distribution and digital payments on its platforms.

“Apple uses its control of the iOS ecosystem to benefit itself while blocking competitors and its conduct is an abuse of a dominant position and in breach of EU competition law,” Epic notes.

Epic will almost certainly find a more accommodating regulatory presence in Europe than it will in the U.S., where Apple is considered a domestic industry darling And that means that its proposed remedies—opening up Apple’s devices to other app stores and payment methods—could be more effective there. That said, the wheels of justice move slowly in the EU, so I wouldn’t expect a timely resolution, though it’s worth pointing out that the EU is already investigating Apple for this behavior.

“This is much bigger than Epic versus Apple,” the Epic announcement continues. “It goes to the heart of whether consumers and developers can do business together directly on mobile platforms or are forced to use monopoly channels against their wishes and interests … Epic is not seeking damages from Apple, as is the case in the US, Australia, and the UK. It is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit consumers and developers.”

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