- Epic Games has filed an injunction against Apple, claiming it engages in anticompetitive behavior through its App Store.
- The legal paperwork was filed after Apple pulled “Fortnite” from the App Store. The company said Epic violated App Store guidelines after Epic Games began offering a new way to make in-app purchases that bypassed the controversial 30% fee charged by Apple’s and Google’s app stores.
- The company announced Thursday that players will get a permanent 20% discount on V-Bucks, the in-game currency in “Fortnite,” if they pay directly through Epic.
- It’s the latest escalation in an ongoing battle between app developers and tech giants, particularly Apple. Developers and lawmakers alike have criticized Apple for taking a large cut of the apps in their stores and wielding power over developers.
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The company behind “Fortnite” has filed an injunction against Apple, claiming it engages in anticompetitive behavior via the App Store.
Epic announced earlier on Thursday the ability to make in-game purchases directly through Epic, bypassing the 30% cut Apple and Google take from app store purchases. In response, Apple pulled “Fortnite” from the App Store in response, though the game appears to still be available on Google’s Play Store.
A spokesperson for Google did not respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. A spokesperson for Apple earlier declined to comment to Business Insider, but later told The Verge that “Fortnite” was removed after Epic “took the unfortunate step of violating App Store guidelines.”
“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,” a spokesperson told The Verge.
Shortly after Apple removed “Fortnite” from its store, the Fortnite Game Twitter account tweeted about a short film it’s premiering at 4 p.m. Thursday titled “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” which appears to be a reference to Apple’s famous “1984” commercial.
—Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020
Bypassing Apple and Google
The issue stems from a new offer Epic announced on Thursday, the “Fortnite Mega Drop”: a permanent 20% discount on V-Bucks, the in-game currency used in “Fortnite.” The new prices are available on PCs and consoles, but not necessarily for mobile gamers: because Apple and Google take a 30% cut on purchases made within their respective app stores, Epic says it’s unable to provide the 20% discount for those who pay through those stores.
Instead, Epic is directing players to use its direct payment system “to get the best deal on V-Bucks and real-money purchases.”
In an FAQ on Epic’s website, the company said it’s offering the new payment options to provide more choice to players and to pass along savings to them.
“Thousands of apps on the App Store approved by Apple accept direct payments, including commonly used apps like Amazon, Grubhub, Nike SNKRS, Best Buy, DoorDash, Fandango, McDonalds, Uber, Lyft, and StubHub,” the company states. “We think all developers should be free to support direct payments in all apps.”
“Clearly Apple and Google acknowledge that third party payment services are safe and acceptable for goods and services,” Epic added.
An ongoing battle
Epic has sparred with the companies behind the major app stores before. Earlier this year, the company gave in to Google after a months-long battle over the Google Play Store. Epic had initially refused to offer “Fortnite” through the Play Store, instead offering the game to Android users via a direct download from Epic’s website. But Epic eventually acquiesced to Google, saying that the company “puts software downloadable outside of Google Play at a disadvantage” by classifying it as malware and citing security issues that Epic says don’t exist, according to The Verge.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has also spoken out about Apple’s policies in the past, saying the company has “gone crazy.”
“Apple has no right to take any percent of any company’s revenue just because they made the phone people use to access the stuff,” Sweeney tweeted last month.
Epic’s latest changes signal a growing animosity between app developers and Apple’s App Store in particular. Developers have long argued that Apple wields too much power over developers and demands too high a cut from in-app purchases. Most recently, email app Hey was banned from the App Store after it refused to stop directing users outside the store to pay the app’s $99 annual subscription fee.
Apple’s treatment of app developers has also come under scrutiny from Congress. Lawmakers on the House antitrust subcommittee recently questioned Apple CEO Tim Cook about the company’s treatment of developers and whether Apple’s practices constitute as anticompetitive.