Aug 13, 2020 - Technology

Epic sues Apple, Google as Fortnite is pulled from app stores

Animated GIF of the Apple logo being eaten

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Fortnite maker Epic Games on Thursday escalated its battle over Apple's App Store tactics, suing the tech giant over antitrust claims while also baiting Apple into dropping Fortnite from the App Store. Later in the day, Epic filed suit against Google as well after that company dropped Fortnite from the Google Play Store.

The big picture: Epic is just one of several developers clashing with Apple. They argue the company harms competition by taking a cut of up to 30% on in-app purchases and subscriptions and blocking most developers from getting around the tax by charging their users directly.

Driving the news:

  • Epic sued Apple in federal court, seeking an injunction that would force Apple to relax the restrictions it places on payments and let developers offer their own payment options. Epic said Apple's practices have cost it money but that it's not asking for damages, only for the court to force Apple to change its practices.
  • Epic unveiled the suit shortly after Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store because Epic implemented its own in-app payment system. The company added an option within the iOS version of Fortnite to let users choose between paying Epic directly in order to buy in-app currency or paying a premium to go through Apple.
  • Epic then sued Google, arguing that its Play Store rules violate federal and California antitrust law.

What they're saying: "Epic seeks to end Apple’s dominance over key technology markets, open up the space for progress and ingenuity, and ensure that Apple mobile devices are open to the same competition as Apple’s personal computers," the company said in its lawsuit.

  • "As such, Epic respectfully requests this Court to enjoin Apple from continuing to impose its anti-competitive restrictions on the iOS ecosystem and ensure 2020 is not like '1984'."

The other side: Regarding the dust-up over the Fortnite app, an Apple spokesperson told Axios that Epic "took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users."

  • Epic enabled an app feature not approved by Apple with the "express intent of violating the App Store guidelines," the spokesperson said.
  • Apple will make "every effort" to work with Epic to resolve the violations, the spokesperson said.
  • Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Meanwhile: Epic also added the direct payment option to the Android version of Fortnite, prompting Google to pull it from the Google Play store as well.

Yes, but: Unlike Apple's App Store, the Google Play store isn't the only way for users to get apps onto their Android phones.

  • "While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies," a Google spokesperson said in a statement to Axios. "However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play."
  • Google declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include new information about Epic Games’ lawsuit against Google.

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