Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store; Epic Games files a legal complaint in response
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Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store; Epic Games files a legal complaint in response

Alex Kane
13 August 2020

Fortnite publisher Epic Games is suing Apple.

As of Thursday, August 13, Fortnite’s no longer available in the App Store. The move comes just after publisher Epic Games implemented a new “direct payment” system that bypasses the 30% fee charged by Apple and Google. In a statement sent to The Verge, the iPhone manufacturer explains its decision.

“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,” Apple writes. “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.”

The statement goes on: “Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem — including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”

Epic Games has immediately filed a lawsuit against Apple in response, citing “anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices,” among other complaints.

“Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic’s legal papers state. “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear. At a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history.”

Update at 7:59 p.m. Eastern: Google, too, has joined the fight between Epic and Apple. The multinational tech giant removed Fortnite from its Google Play (Android) storefront Thursday evening, roughly four hours after Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple for doing the same thing.

“The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores,” Google said in a statement published by TechCrunch. “For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”

Update at 10:21 p.m. Eastern: Perhaps unsurprisingly, Epic Games was ready to answer Google with a second lawsuit. Like the Apple suit, Epic alleges that Google “is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize.” Instead of seeking monetary compensation from Google, Epic asks for “injunctive relief that would deliver Google’s broken promise: an open, competitive Android ecosystem for all users and industry participants.”

Five years ago, the music-streaming service Spotify ran an email campaign urging its customers to subscribe directly through its website, saving $3 off the monthly cost as well as sending a message to Apple. Now, video-game companies like Epic Games and Microsoft are drawing new attention to the App Store’s restrictions.

“Epic is not seeking any monetary damages,” Epic’s suit says. “Instead, Epic seeks to end Apple’s dominance over key technology markets, open up the space for progress and ingenuity, and ensure that Apple mobile devices are open to the same competition as Apple’s personal computers.”

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