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Fortnite Ban From Apple and Google Stores Prompts Legal Action

David Paul

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Fortnite

Epic Games is filing a federal antitrust lawsuit against Apple and Google after claims Epic violated their in-app payment guidelines.

Game developer Epic Games is filing a suit against Apple and Google after the tech giants removed the popular Fortnite game from their app stores.

The game was banned following Epic’s move to release a game update which bypassed the store’s payment system and allowed users to purchase currency in Fortnite at a lower price if they bought directly from the Epic game store.

The Apple store platform bans any payment system apart from its own, which Epic attempted to circumvent, denying Apple the income. Apple takes a cut of between 15% and 30% for most app subscriptions and payments made inside apps.

The company says that Epic’s move violates its in-game payment policy, so Epic filed suits against them to end practices related to their app stores and establishing them as a “monopoly” in the app store market.

Google spokesman Dan Jackson declined to comment on the lawsuit when contacted by Reuters, but said the company would “welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play”.

In its lawsuit, filed in California, Epic said that Apple had: “become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation”.

Epic said: “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear.”

Apple said Fortnite’s removal from the store was due to Epic launching its payment feature with the “express intent of violating the App Store guidelines”.

It said that the guidelines “create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users”.

Epic has mocked Apple since the issue began through social media and Fortnite platform. On social media they launched a campaign with the hashtag #FreeFortnite, saying players should seek refunds if they were denied access to the game.

In Fortnite, a parody of Apple’s famous “1984” advert was created, called “Nineteen Eighty Fortnite”, in which a female Fortnite character throws a unicorn-shaped club to smash a screen containing a character with an Apple-shaped head.

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The lawsuit comes after increased scrutiny from lawmakers and consumers over the competitive practices of large tech organisations like Apple and Google.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, along with Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, was questioned at a congressional hearing in July about the fees charged to companies that distribute their apps and software through its App Store.

Democratic Congressman David Cicilline, who lead the congressional committee, revealed that investigations by US lawmakers had uncovered evidence that some tech giants were using their power in “destructive, harmful ways” to accelerate expansion.

Cook insisted that all developers were “treated equally” and said the market remains “competitive and transparent,” although the Epic lawsuit would suggest otherwise.

The tech bosses all refuted claims that their respective companies abuse market dominance and limit competition. The companies have a combined joint-market value of more than $5 trillion (£3.8trn).

David Paul

Staff Writer, DIGIT

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