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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.

Go deeper

Nov 18, 2020 - Technology

Apple settles with states for $113 million over slowed iPhones

Photo: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images

Apple will pay states $113 million in a settlement over allegations that the phone maker secretly throttled speeds on older iPhones to extend battery life, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: 34 states were involved in the investigation, which alleges that starting in December 2016, Apple released a software update reducing performance to keep some iPhones from unexpectedly shutting down.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Nov 18, 2020 - Technology

Microsoft adding security chip to Windows machines

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Microsoft said Tuesday it is working with chipmakers AMD, Intel and Qualcomm to bring a new security processor to Windows machines. Dubbed Pluton, the security chip is based on work done for the Xbox One and designed to bring an added layer of security.

Why it matters: A number of difficult-to-patch chip flaws in recent years have left computers vulnerable to attack. It also comes as many of the biggest tech companies, including Apple, Google, Microsoft and Amazon, are increasingly designing their own silicon to augment traditional processors.

Facebook to lift political ad ban imposed after November election

Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook will finally allow advertisers to resume running political and social issue ads in the U.S. on Thursday, according to a company update.

The big picture: Facebook and rival Google instituted political ad bans to slow the spread of misinformation and curb confusion around the presidential election and its aftermath.