Recently, Fortnite kicked out of the App Store and Play Store. While Europe slept, a power struggle erupted in the US between rebel game developer Epic Games and two mobile giants Apple and Google. There is a lot to be said for the sophisticated PR from Fortnite’s makers. But lawsuits against monopolists Apple and Google also reveal tidbits and inconsistencies.
Epic Games is rehearsing a rebellion against the big players in the mobile industry and their 30% margin on the Play Store and App Store. It all started when the game studio lowered the cost of in-game purchases in Fortnite. Which was free, and thus reduced them to the level of PC or console. Provided that the buyer pays virtual V-Bucks for Apple and Google directly to Epic. Of course, this is a clear violation of the rules of the two app stores. Which both prohibit alternative payment methods for apps and games in stores.
The lawsuit against Apple and Google
Epic Games, of course, knew it would anger the mobile giants. And so the game of breaking the rules and banning the sale in stores started last night. Apple kicked Fortnite from the App Store, and a few hours later Google responded and removed the popular game from the Play Store. Epic Games, of course, was prepared for this promotion, actually very well. Because the lawsuit against Apple and Google followed immediately.
Epic Games has filed legal papers in response to Apple, read more here: https://t.co/c4sgvxQUvb
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020
With Nineteen Eighty Fortnite against Apple’s 1984 commercial
As part of its FreeFortnite campaign, Epic Games is launching a long-planned PR battle for Apple’s app store monopoly. Which has been highly criticized in the US, for example, by Congressman David Cicilline, who has a 30 percent margin on the App Store. Months ago with a “highway robbery,” that is, compared to a highway robbery. The promotional video, which Epic Games ran in the style of the famous 1984 Apple commercial called Epic Nineteen Eighty Fortnite, targets Apple in particular:
Google also acts as a monopoly, says Epic
But Google is picking up steam too. The complaint alleges that the Play Store operator has in the past prevented Fortnite from being preinstalled as a game app on OnePlus or LG phones, bypassing Google Play.
fuckin OOF pic.twitter.com/muQLyqwViD
— Tierney Cyren 🍑 (@bitandbang) August 14, 2020
Another attempt against the App Store and Play Store guidelines
Google and Apple have of course made relevant statements, both refer to their uniform guidelines for all developers who want to offer their products in the Play Store and App Store.
From a competition law perspective, Apple has the disadvantage that there are simply no legal alternatives to the App Store on iOS and iPadOS. But Google does, although they are only now increasingly coming to the fore following Google’s ban on Huawei phones. But there are obvious exceptions in the App Store that Apple accepts. Such as when direct payments through secure third-party providers like credit card providers are accepted in apps from Amazon, McDonald’s, or Uber. The Apple and Google high profitability debate is now entering the next round with a fresh push from Epics. In any case, they are not new, but they may not exhale.