In August 2020, Apple removed Fortnite, one of the most popular online video games, from the iOS App Store. This decision set off a chain of events that led to an ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite. To better understand the situation, we must delve into the reasons behind this conflict and the views of both companies involved.
Apple’s decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store came after Epic Games introduced a direct payment system within the game, effectively bypassing Apple’s in-app purchase system. This move violated Apple’s App Store guidelines, which stipulate that all in-app purchases must go through the company’s system. By doing so, Apple can ensure a seamless user experience, maintain control over the digital marketplace, and collect a 30% commission on each transaction.
Apple’s argument for this policy is that it provides a level playing field for developers and ensures the safety and security of the users. The company believes that the App Store’s success is built on a set of rules and guidelines that protect users from fraud, malware, and other threats. Moreover, Apple claims that the 30% commission is justified because it covers the costs of running the App Store, such as app review, hosting, and developer tools.
On the other hand, Epic Games sees the situation quite differently. The game developer argues that Apple’s practices are anti-competitive and monopolistic. Epic Games claims that Apple’s control over the iOS app distribution and in-app payments creates a closed ecosystem that stifles innovation and unfairly forces developers to pay a high commission fee. By introducing the direct payment system, Epic Games sought to challenge Apple’s 30% commission rate and give players the option to purchase in-game currency at a lower price.
In response to Apple’s removal of Fortnite, Epic Games filed a lawsuit against the tech giant, accusing it of engaging in monopolistic practices that harm consumers and developers. This legal battle has brought to light the broader debate surrounding the power dynamics between app developers and platform owners, with many developers echoing Epic Games’ concerns about Apple’s commission rate and control over the app distribution process.
As of today, the court case between Apple and Epic Games is still ongoing. In September 2021, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued a mixed ruling, finding that Apple was not engaged in monopolistic behavior but also ordering the company to allow developers to include external payment links within their apps. Both companies have expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling and have filed appeals. The legal battle is far from over, and it may take years for a final resolution to be reached.