Fortnite developer Epic Games is suing Apple and Google after they both pulled Epic’s hit game from their app stores over a direct payment dispute. Currently, neither of them allow users to download and install Fortnite on phones through their digital marketplace.
At the heart of the debate is whether Epic has the right to bring payments directly into its Fortnite app, disrupt the payment systems of Apple and Google and charge up to 30% of Apple and Google for per transaction.
Epic’s lawsuit alleges that Apple has become a “giant that seeks to control the market, stop competition, and stifle innovation”.
“Apple is bigger, stronger, more entrenched, and more cruel than the monopolies of previous years,” Epic said. “The scale and reach of Apple go far beyond any other technology monopolist in history.”
Epic’s lawsuit against Google accuses the tech giant of abandoning its idealistic roots and says Android’s claim that it’s an open ecosystem is a “promise of failure”.
“In 1998, Google was founded as an exciting young company with a unique motto: ‘Don’t be bad,'” reads the complaint. “Twenty-two years later, Google has given up on its motto almost rethinking and is using its scale to do evil with its competitors, innovators, customers and users in one place. market series that it has grown to be exclusive. ” Google declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Earlier on Thursday, Apple said it chose to remove Fortnite from its App Store because the game violates guidelines that Apple says applies equally to all developers and is designed to keep it safe. store.
“As a result, their Fortnite app has been removed from the store,” Apple said in a statement, adding that it will be working with Epic to resolve the issue. “Epic has activated an in-app feature that has not yet been reviewed or approved by Apple, and they do so with the clear purpose of violating the App Store’s guidelines for in-app payments that apply to all players. selling digital goods or services. “
Google also cited Epic’s rule break as the reason it removed Fortnite from its digital marketplace. Consumers can still download games on Android phones using other app stores, such as the Galaxy Store for Samsung devices.
“Although Fortnite is still available on Android, we can’t make it available on Play anymore because it violates our policies,” a Google spokesperson said. “However, we welcome the opportunity to continue discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”
The decision by Apple and Google to ban Fortnite from their respective app stores marks a significant escalation in the debate among tech giants, developers creating programs for the device. their equipment and managers are interested in examining them all. Apple’s iOS software and Google’s Android both support nearly all mobile devices in the world. That influence has revived the tech industry and the broader world economy, revitalizing businesses such as ride-hailing and delivery company Uber, game maker Zynga and social media. ByteDance TikTok Assembly.
But the company’s control over their respective platforms attracted complaints from some developers, who said that Apple forced developers to pay commissions for many purchases made. shown on the application, there is no other option. And they complain that Google forces its partners to package and advertise their own apps on their devices. Both companies are also accused of building in favor of their respective applications over allowing fair competition.
Apple and Google argue that their developer guidelines protect users and guarantee equal treatment to app makers who have created millions of apps for both platforms. well suited. Meanwhile, critics of Apple and Google argue that companies are too restrictive and that they pay too great a commission for commerce on their platforms.
Over the past year, lawmakers and regulators have begun to join developers in this debate,and strictly control our platform and probe Google’s behavior.
In particular, Apple responded by citing a study it commissioned that said its fees are similar to its peers, with the exception of Epic, which charges a 12% fee for its game store.
“Apple’s commissions are comparable to or less than the commission that most of our competitors charge,” said Apple CEO Tim Cook.. “And they’re a lot lower than the 50% to 70% that software developers paid to distribute their work before we launched the App Store.”
The company was still criticized for its fees, prompting music giant Spotify and other companies to file complaints with the European Union’s Competition Commission. In June, the EU opened two investigations against Apple,and the handling of the technology behind the Apple Pay payment service.
“It looks like Apple has had a ‘gatekeeper’ role when it comes to distributing apps and content to users of popular Apple devices,” said EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at the time. there. “We need to ensure that Apple’s rules do not distort competition in markets where Apple is competing with other app developers, such as with its music streaming service Apple Music. or with Apple Books. “
Cook dismissed those concerns in a July statement to the US Congress.
“After starting with 500 apps, today the App Store has more than 1.7 million apps – only 60 of them are Apple software,” Cook said. “Obviously, if Apple were a gatekeeper, what we did was open the gate more. We wanted to get every possible app into the store, not keep them.”
For now iOS Users who have already downloaded Fortnite on their devices can still seemingly use the full app, including a new approach to in-game purchases.
A battle for payments
Epic waged a public war with Apple in a series of standout moves.
The company’s first step is to offer discounts on the hit Fortnite Battle Royale game, bringing together up to 100 people on an island animated simulation game. There, they fight until the last player stands (and thus wins the game). Fortnite’s design has had great success; The game is easy to grasp but hard to master. The playful and vivid visuals, without gore, are characteristic of most fighting games, making it even more palatable for families and babies. And it’s completely free to download, with unique charges coming from “V-Bucks”, in-game tokens that players can use to.
On Thursday, Epic announced a discount of up to 20% permanently if players buy V-Bucks directly from Epic. But they have chosen to keep the price if the player purchases via Apple or Google payment systems. Hence, 1,000 V-Bucks will cost you $ 9.99 if you go through Apple or Google systems, but only $ 7.99 directly from Epic.
“Currently, when using the Apple and Google payment options, Apple and Google will charge a 30% fee and the discount up to 20% does not apply,” Epic wrote in a blog post on Friday. Year. “If Apple or Google reduces payment fees in the future, Epic will pass the savings over to you.”
Soon after, Apple removed Epic’s app from its store, leading to Epic’s lawsuit. Epic also posted an online video that mimicked Apple’s famous Macintosh commercials from 1984, this time accusing Apple of being a villain instead of a hero.
The video ends with a recommended hashtag, #FreeFortnite, which became the top trending item worldwide on Twitter within an hour of being posted. In the US, Apple is second on the list of top trends, with Epic in fifth place.
This isn’t the first time Epic has started a public war with one of its peers. Back in 2018, Epic launched Fortnite for Android by asking people to download the game directly from its website, rather than. The company confirmed to CNET that it will do the same on iOS if possible.
Troopsin April, but Epic criticized Google’s attempt to warn Android users of the alleged threats posed by Fortnite direct downloads.
Spotify, the company that has instigated an EU investigation against Apple, welcomed Epic’s lawsuit against Apple.
“Apple’s unfair practices have been detrimental to competitors and deprived consumers of too long,” said a Spotify spokesperson. “The stakes for small and large consumers and app developers cannot be higher, and ensuring that the iOS platform operates competitively and fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching implications.”
Epic has also chosen other public battles. By the end of 2018, Valve, famous game maker and online game store developer Steam, at launch. The company promises lower commission fees for developers and starters to popular games, such as Metro: Exodus and Borderlands 3.
“A lot of these issues are areas where you won’t please everyone,” says Epic CEO Tim Sweeney.. “Epic Games Store exclusives have been controversial among PC gamers who like everything available on Steam, but by far it’s the most powerful approach to ensuring one-stop success. new products.”
CNET Ry Crist, Joan E. Solsman and Sean Keane contributed to this report.