© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: The Apple Inc logo hangs at the entrance to the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York
From Foo Yun Chee
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Fortnite developer Epic Games has referred its fight against Apple (NASDAQ 🙂 to the European Union antitrust authorities and intensified the dispute with the iPhone manufacturer over its App Store payment system and control over app downloads.
The two companies have been involved in a lawsuit since August when the game maker tried to avoid Apple’s 30% fee for some in-app purchases on the App Store by launching its own in-app payment system.
This prompted Apple to dump Epic’s Fortnite game from the App Store, threatening to terminate a connected account that was promoting the proliferation of Unreal Engine, a software tool used by hundreds of app makers to create games effectively blocked.
Epic Games founder and chief executive Tim Sweeney said Apple’s control of its platform made the playing field worse.
“The 30% they charge as app tax they can make 50%, 90% or 100%. According to their theory of how these markets are structured, they have the right to do so,” he told reporters .
“Epic is not asking a court or regulator to convert that 30% to some other number just to restore competition under IOS,” he said, referring to Apple’s mobile operating system.
The company also accused Apple of preventing rivals from launching their own gaming subscription service on its platform by preventing them from bundling multiple games despite its own Apple Arcade service.
Apple said its rules apply to all developers equally and that Epic has broken them.
“In a way that a judge has described as deceptive and clandestine, Epic enabled a feature on its app that was not reviewed or approved by Apple, with the express intention of violating the App Store policies that are intended for All developers and developers alike apply protecting customers, “the company said in a statement.
“Your reckless behavior has pawned customers and we look forward to making this clear to the European Commission,” it said.
Epic Games’ EU complaint got the thumbs up on European Parliament legislator Rasmus Andresen, who will attempt in the coming months to strengthen EU tech rules proposed by the Commission to contain US tech giants.
“We as legislators must ensure that these platforms, which act as gatekeepers in the digital market, must adhere to a predefined set of rules in order to guarantee fair competition and balanced market powers,” he said in a statement.
Apple has taken small steps in the past few months to change its practices, including lowering fees for some developers and giving them the opportunity to challenge their decisions, both of which did not satisfy the company’s critics.
Fortnite is expected to make a return to the iPhone in the Safari mobile browser at some point. Epic and Apple have been trading documents and filing for the past several weeks ahead of a scheduled May trial in the Epic lawsuit filed last year.
The commission, which is investigating Apple’s mobile payment system, Apple Pay, and the App Store, acknowledged receipt of the complaint.
“We will evaluate it using our standard procedures,” said a commission spokeswoman.
Epic Games has also complained to the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal and the Australian Guard Dog.
Big companies like Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ :), Spotify (NYSE 🙂 and Match Group Inc. (NASDAQ 🙂 have also criticized Apple’s App Store fees and rules.