It all started on August 13 when Epic Games introduced a direct payment option in their game, Fortnite, for Apple’s iPhone and iPad. This move allowed the consumers to pay 20% less for V-bucks (Fortnite game currency) by bypassing Apple’s in-app payment mechanism.
Hours later, Apple promptly blocked Fortnite from its App Store in violation of App Store Review Guidelines. “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.” Google too, then blocked Fortnite from its Play Store.
It seemed that Epic Games was expecting this retaliation and immediately filed a lawsuit against Apple, describing it as a “monopoly” which is “unfair and anti-competitive”. “Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation.” Epic also sued Google.
Epic Games also released a video titled “Nineteen eighty-Fortnite”, a parody of Apple’s famous 1984 Mackintosh ad. Its video presents Apple as the antagonist and calls on gamers to “Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming ‘1984.’’’ Epic also encouraged players to use #freefortnite on social media platforms.
The company has also been critical of Apple’s 30% cut on in-app purchases. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney had tweeted: “This is a critical consideration in these 30% store fees. They come off the top, before funding any developer costs. As a result, Apple and Google make more profit from most developers’ games than the developers themselves. That is terribly unfair and exploitative.” It also pointed out that companies like Uber, DoorDash and StubHub, which offer tangible and real-life services, are exempted from the App Store’s payment mechanism.
Apple had responded saying that “… We won’t make an exception for Epic because we don’t think it’s right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers.” It also stated that Epic was ‘putting the entire App Store model at risk’.
Epic seems undeterred after the App Store ban, hosting a #freefortnite cup on August 23. It is also set to launch a Marvel-themed season soon.
Epic’s plea is now being supported by Spotify and Tinder owner Match Group. Companies like Rakuten and Spotify too had filed antitrust complaints against Apple in the recent past.
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Image Source: BBC News