ONE of the world’s most popular video games has just been booted off Apple’s App Store, as well as the Google Play store on Android. And in response, the video game’s developer Epic Games trained its sights on both tech giants, filing civil antitrust lawsuits that accuse both of monopolistic practices.
That’s quite the battle royale right there.
How did it arrive at this point?
On Thursday, popular video game Fortnite launched its own in-game store for microtransactions in iOS and Android versions of the game. By allowing players to buy directly from Epic Games, it can bypass the usual commission that Apple and Google regularly charge on in-app purchases.
As a result, it could offer microtransactions at a cheaper price. A thousand V-Bucks of in-game currency, for example, usually costs $9.99 (or around P487). But by buying direct from the store, gamers can buy them for just $7.99 (or around P389).
In a statement announcing the direct payment scheme, Epic said, “Apple and Google collect an exorbitant 30 percent fee on all payments. If Apple and Google lower their fees on payments, Epic will pass along the savings to players.”
Now, neither Android nor iOS users can download the game.
Epic Games was quick to fire back. It filed two nearly identical lawsuits against the two tech giants, accusing them of monopolistic practices.
In the Apple lawsuit, Epic Games said: “Epic brings this suit to end Apple’s unfair and anti-competitive actions that Apple undertakes to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multibillion dollar markets: (i) the iOS App Distribution Market, and (ii) the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.”
Against Google, Epic had this to say: “Epic seeks to end Google’s unfair, monopolistic and anticompetitive actions[...] which harm device makers, app developers, app distributors, payment processors, and consumers.”
While lawsuits have been filed against both companies that run iOS and Android, Apple seems to be taking the brunt of Epic Games’ heat. Android’s relatively looser platform allows users to download apps and conduct purchases through other means. In the App Store, though, Apple lays down all the rules.
So it was against Apple that Epic Games also released a black and white video for fans, likening the trillion-dollar company to a fascist regime ruled by a rotten apple-headed dictator. It’s a parody of a forty-year-old old ad promoting the Macintosh.
Both Apple and Google’s strangehold and commissions on their platform’s respective app stores has long been a sore point for app developers. In fact, in recent Congressional hearings conducted by the US legislature, lawmakers questioned Apple CEO Tim Cook about this very subject.
Spotify has spoken out publicly in support of the Epic Games lawsuit.
“We applaud Epic Games’ decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple’s abuse of its dominant position,” said the Sweden-based music platform in a statement obtained by The Verge editor in chief Nilay Patel.
“Apple’s unfair practices have disadvantages competitors and deprived customers for far too long,” it continued.