Epic Games’ fight with Apple over the App Store’s 30% fees has gotten uglier, with the “Fortnite” maker alleging it needs a federal court’s intervention to prevent the tech giant from taking retaliatory action and “crushing” it.
Epic, whose most popular title is “Fortnite,” said on Monday that Apple threatened to revoke its developer accounts in less than two weeks unless it complies with App Store rules regarding in-app payments.
“Apple removed ‘Fortnite’ from the App Store and has informed Epic that on Friday, August 28, Apple will terminate all our developer accounts and cut Epic off from iOS and Mac development tools,” Epic Games said in a statement. “We are asking the court to stop this retaliation.”
Epic, in a highly orchestrated campaign last Thursday, announced it was giving “Fortnite” users a 20% price break if they purchased in-app game currency directly, bypassing the Apple and Google app stores (which both keep 30% of in-app transactions). Citing the violation of their rules, Apple and Google banned “Fortnite” from their stores, leading Epic Games to file lawsuits against the tech giants alleging anticompetitive conduct and that Apple and Google are imposing “unlawful” restrictions to monopolize their app platforms.
In its filing Monday in the U.S. District Court for California’s Northern District, Epic is seeking a preliminary injunction stopping Apple from cutting off the company’s developer accounts. Otherwise, that would have devastating effects on its business, including the distribution of its Unreal Engine for 3D games developers, according to Epic.
“Left unchecked, Apple’s actions will irreparably damage Epic’s reputation among ‘Fortnite’ users and be catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business,” Epic says in the filing. “If the Unreal Engine can no longer support Apple platforms, the software developers that use it will be forced to use alternatives. The damage to Epic’s ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable. Preliminary injunctive relief is necessary to prevent Apple from crushing Epic before this case could ever get to judgment.”
Epic said in the filing that Apple “has never claimed” that Unreal Engine “violated any Apple policy.”
“Not content simply to remove ‘Fortnite’ from the App Store, Apple is attacking Epic’s entire business in unrelated areas,” the game company said.
Regarding Epic’s latest filing, Apple referred to a statement it issued last week about the dispute: “Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.” Apple said it “will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return ‘Fortnite’ to the App Store.”
Epic has charged that Apple “has for years used its complete monopoly over the distribution of apps to the billion users of iOS, the Apple operating system (‘OS’) running on all iPhones and iPads, to coerce app developers into using Apple’s payment platform, In-App Purchase (‘IAP’) for all in-app purchases of digital content used in their apps. By tying IAP to app distribution, Apple eliminates all competition in the market for in-app payment processing, allowing it to impose an exorbitant 30% ‘app tax’ on all in-app purchases of in-app content.”