A momentous sequence of events over the last day has seen Epic Games suing both Apple and Google. Yesterday, to go alongside permanent discounts on in-game purchases in Fortnite, Epic Games enabled an option direct payment methods within the game for both iOS and Android, which offered a discounted price on purchases as compared to payments made through the App Store and Play Store on iOS devices respectively.
Apple and Google take 30 per cent of all revenue made through digital purchases within apps through their stores, and with Epic bypassing those and offering direction payment options as well, that option allowed for discounted prices, with Epic stating that the savings were going not to them, but to the players. This was significant because App Store and Play Store guidelines both dictate that in-app purchases can only be made through their stores, which makes the 30 per cent revenue cut (and as such, higher prices) more or less unavoidable.
With Apple and Google stating that Epic Games had violated these guidelines, they removed Fortnite from iOS and Android. Epic, in retaliation, has sued both companies, alleging that they are exercising a monopoly in the market through their practices.
Epic’s complaint against Apple claims that it is not seeking monetary damages, nor is it looking for Apple to make an exemption for them in particular, but is instead seeking injunctive relief against those guidelines to allow for fair competition. In particular, Epic’s complaint states that since there is no way for apps to be downloaded on iOS other than through the App Store, and that since apps on iOS devices are forced to use Apple’s payment methods rather than direct methods as well – which, in turn, leads to revenue losses – those two points in combination mean that Apple is exerting a monopoly on third party developers.
Epic’s complaint filed against Google stands on similar ground- though things on Android are a little more different. Unlike the App Store, the Google Play Store is one of many options available on Android devices- third party stores and apps are allowed on the mobile OS (Epic themselves have their Epic Games launcher available on Android devices), while downloading of apps can also be done through direct links (which is something that is an option for Fortnite on Android as well). Fortnite, in fact, can still be downloaded on Android devices through those means, though it is no longer available on the Play Store.
With Google, though – in addition to bringing claims similar to Apple against what they allege to be monopolistic practices and their restrictions on in-app purchases through the Play Store – Epic also states that though Android devices do allow apps to be downloaded outside of the Play Store, they are still placed at a disadvantage. Some examples that Epic mentions in its complaints are users having to click through multiple – often dozens – of links and confirmations while downloading apps through these means, and often also getting bombarded with malware warning and messages, or apps not downloaded through the Play Store not having auto-updates enabled.
Epic Games and their CEO Tim Sweeney have both publicly spoken out against Apple and Google’s practices several times over the years. Beyond now having taken legal action against both, Epic are also seemingly going after the two companies – specifically Apple – in other ways as well. It recently released a video titled “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a jab at Apple’s iconic “1984” ad, in which it publicly denounces Apple’s monopoly. The video was shown live in Fortnite, uploaded online, and is being played on a loop on the game’s YouTube and Twitch channels. You can view it below.