Epic Games and Apple continue fight on same front in the EU and US - The UpStream

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Epic Games and Apple continue fight on same front in the EU and US

posted Saturday Mar 16, 2024 by Scott Ertz

Apple hates Epic Games - there is no doubt about that. The company has created policies and procedures to target the popular game studio and publisher specifically. In fact, Apple's heavy-handed approach to their platforms and to Epic Games in particular has led states, countries, and even the EU, to look into their practices and craft new laws around them. In the past few weeks, some of the original actions that spurred the whole battle between titans came back up when Apple banned Epic's developer account for a day, but quickly reversed course.

The history of the fight

The battle between Epic Games and Apple started when Epic openly violated Apple's rules about allowing in-app purchases through third-party payment systems. Apple has always required developers to use their App Store payment system for a 30% fee. Epic had enough and integrated their own system, offering a discount for those who used it. Apple nearly immediately terminated their developer account and pulled Fortnite from the App Store. Google quickly followed suit.

Epic then went on a rampage that made their name seem tame by comparison. They sued Apple and Google in every jurisdiction they could find cause. The tussle quickly grew well beyond the original scope, bringing in discovery from Google and Apple that revealed a lot of previously undisclosed corporate information. It even went so far as to subpoena data from other unrelated companies, such as Valve.

The results

In the US lawsuit, Apple won against Epic in all but one count, but that one was a big win for Epic. The ruling required that Apple allow developers and publishers to use payment systems that are not owned by Apple. This meant that the action that had originally kicked off this whole battle would now be perfectly allowed and required. Apple worked really hard to profit off of the loss, but Epic is fighting that one, too so that Apple cannot take a 27% cut of payments they are not involved with.

While Epic has not gotten everything they wanted in the lawsuits, they have gotten a lot closer in subsequent legislation. The European Union's Digital Markets Act (DMA) is the biggest win for the company, as the EU now has a legal definition for a "gatekeeper" and has specific rules around their behaviors. In the case of Apple and Google, they were required to allow third-party app stores on their platforms. This would allow Epic to get Fortnite back onto iOS devices more directly and without the need for a Game Pass subscription.

The latest developments

Last week, the DMA finally went into effect and it had some unexpected consequences for Epic. The company's division in Sweden, which falls squarely inside of the EU and therefore within the purview of the DMA, had its Apple Developer Account terminated. Apple claims that it is because Epic Games is "verifiably untrustworthy." In a blog post, Epic Games laid out its case against Apple, saying,

In terminating Epic's developer account, Apple is taking out one of the largest potential competitors to the Apple App Store. They are undermining our ability to be a viable competitor and they are showing other developers what happens when you try to compete with Apple or are critical of their unfair practices.

The DMA was designed to eliminate the very power imbalance that Apple is proving exists today: they claim to have total control to block competing stores and apps. We will continue to fight to bring true competition and choice to iOS devices in Europe and around the world.

In fairly quick response, Apple reinstated the developer account. This move was likely in anticipation of further scrutiny, regulation, and possible fines from the EU. The timing and rationale were certainly suspicious, with Apple admitting that it was, at least partially, a retaliatory act against the company. A reinstated account means that Epic's mobile Games Store ambitions are back in action.


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