‘Fortnite’ maker accuses Apple of illegal monopoly practices in tech battle royale that appears to be heading to courtroom

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The maker of “Fortnite” has launched a Battle Royale against Apple Inc., accusing the tech giant of seeking to “illegally maintain its monopoly”.
Epic Games said Thursday it has filed legal documents against Apple US: AAPL
after the iPhone maker kicked the company’s hit game “Fortnite” out of its App Store, and an attorney representing Epic confirmed that the complaint was filed in the Northern District of California. Apple removed the game after Epic began offering players a discount on in-game purchases if they chose to make direct payment and not purchase their digital offerings through the App Store.

The game’s creator prepared for a fight by releasing a video that parodies Apple’s classic 1984 ad urging customers to oppose compliance and prevent International Business Machines Inc. United States: IBM
to dominate the IT market. At the time, Apple warned that without change, the year 1984 could mirror George Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984”; Epic Games warns in their ad that 2020 could also embody “1984”. Apple charges developers for 30% of purchases made through the App Store and 15% after the first year of subscription. It has been the subject of antitrust investigations into the company, which is worth nearly $ 2 trillion from the money it collects on the iPhone and the apps and services it provides through it. Epic has long tried to avoid paying such fees, previously launching its own store to bypass Alphabet Inc’s U.S.: GOOGL
US: GOOG
Similar play store bundled with rival Google’s Android operating system.

See also: ‘Fortnite’ rejected Android, then Google found major security flaw in its app
Fortnite had racked up more than 125 million app installs and over $ 1 billion in player spending on Apple iOS devices alone until mid-May, according to mobile app research firm Sensor Tower .
After Epic publicly announced Thursday morning that it would offer users of Apple’s iOS operating system a discount on purchases made through their own store rather than through Apple, the Cupertino, California-based tech giant , deleted the app from the App Store. In response, Epic has filed a lawsuit against Apple for claiming to “end Apple’s unfair and anti-competitive actions that Apple undertakes to illegally maintain its monopoly” involving application distribution and in-app purchases.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment from MarketWatch, but issued a statement to other news organizations ahead of news of Epic’s trial. The statement claimed that Epic Games introduced the feature without the company’s approval and did so “with the express intention of violating the App Store guidelines for in-app payments.”
The statement also said that Apple “will do everything possible to work with Epic to resolve these violations so that they can return ‘Fortnite’ to the App Store.”
An Epic spokeswoman confirmed the lawsuit in an email to MarketWatch.
As part of its blitz against Apple, the company launched a page on its website with the tagline “#FreeFortnite” that tells customers to use this hashtag to support Epic by engaging with the official Twitter account of the App Store. The hashtag was trending on Twitter within an hour of the site’s launch.
Epic says on its website that players who have already downloaded ‘Fortnite’ to their Apple mobile devices “should have no problem continuing to play Chapter 2 – Season 3 update 13.40”. Once the new season begins, Epic expects players to be able to read older content but not access new material.
Read more: Apple and Facebook could be most vulnerable among antitrust suspects
Apple’s fee policies around the App Store have recently come under increased scrutiny from developers and regulators. Great developers, including Spotify Technology SA US: SPOT
looked for ways to avoid paying Apple a reduced subscription fee, and the developers of Hey, a new messaging app, publicly battled with Apple in June after the messaging service rolled out its app without possibility to buy subscriptions from the application. The developers at Apple and Hey finally came to a compromise.
Regulators and lawmakers in the US and Europe have also questioned the company’s App Store policies and whether they stifle competition.
Epic argues in its complaint that Apple is “harming the relationship of application developers with their customers” by its mandatory involvement in all transactions since customers “often blame Epic” for problems related to payments. “In addition, Apple is able to obtain information regarding Epic’s transactions with its own customers, although Epic and its own customers would prefer not to share their information with Apple,” the complaint states.
Apple shares rose 1.8% on Thursday and gained more than 50% in the past three months as the Dow Jones Industrial Average US: DJIA
, which counts Apple as a component, added 20%.

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