Epic Games brings EU competition complaint against Apple

17 Feb 2021

Image: © dennizn/Stock.adobe.com

The Fortnite maker has been locking horns with Apple over the App Store’s policies on in-app purchases.

Epic Games, the maker of Fortnite, has taken its fight with Apple to Europe.

The game developer has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple with the European Commission, following similar actions it has taken in the US, UK and Australia.

Epic’s complaint is related to Apple’s control over revenue generated in the App Store and the company taking a 30pc cut of some in-app purchases. Epic has raised similar concerns about Google and its Play Store.

The affair has been particularly thorny with Apple and was kicked into high gear last year when Epic attempted to circumvent the charges by launching its own direct in-game payment system. Apple booted Fortnite from the App Store in response.

The game maker’s complaint to Europe’s competition watchdog claims that Apple’s practices are anti-competitive and abusive of its dominant position in the market. Epic is not seeking damages in this complaint.

Tim Sweeney, chief executive of Epic Games, said that the dispute with Apple will have implications for the future of mobile app developers and the platforms they use to distribute their work.

“It’s bad for consumers, who are paying inflated prices due to the complete lack of competition among stores and in-app payment processing,” Sweeney said. “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.”

Apple has repeatedly challenged Epic’s stance on its App Store policies and said all apps are treated equally under these terms. It said it plans to argue this case to the European Commission.

Recently Apple has modified some of its terms to try and appease some of the disquiet in the developer community, including reducing certain fees and introducing new avenues to challenge decisions made by the App Store.

Other companies including Spotify and dating app Match have criticised Apple’s policies as well. The European Commission opened an antitrust investigation last summer to assess whether Apple’s rules for app developers violate EU competition rules.

While the Apple-Epic feud is just getting started in the EU, the dispute is rumbling on in the US courts. Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple last year and it is expected to go to trial in May.

Jonathan Keane is a freelance business and technology journalist based in Dublin