Epic Games has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union, broadening its legal battle against the tech giant by attempting to appeal to the EU’s differing interpretation of antitrust issues compared to those in the United States (via The Wall Street Journal).
Last September, Epic Games added a Fortnite update that allowed customers to purchase in-game currency directly from Epic, skirting Apple’s in-app purchases. That is against Apple’s rules, and the move led Apple to pull the app from the App Store, which Epic clearly anticipated, as it wasted no time in taking Apple to court and releasing an anti-Apple marketing campaign simultaneously.
In August, Apple followed through with a threat to terminate Epic Games’ developer account and countersued Epic in October, claiming breach of contract. Last year, Google pulled Fortnite from the Google Play Store for the same reason – introducing a payment system that bypasses the standard app store policy that sees the hosting platform take a 30% share of in-app purchases.
Epic’s legal complaint against Apple in the EU joins plaintiffs including Spotify that have prompted a formal investigation by the European Commission into Apple’s alleged anticompetitive behavior.
“What’s at stake here is the very future of mobile platforms,” said Epic founder and Chief Executive Officer Tim Sweeney. “We will not stand idly by and allow Apple to use its platform dominance to control what should be a level digital playing field.”
Sweeney said that while the legal case filed in Europe targets Apple, “the broad outlines… are equally applicable to Google, though the timing may be different.”
Europe uses different standards than the U.S. when it comes to antitrust issues, focusing more on fairness between competitors than their impact on consumers, which the U.S tends to focus on. Epic has also filed similar lawsuits in Australia and the U.K., accusing Apple of an abuse of dominance.
The European Commission has yet to comment on Epic’s complaint, which remains confidential. However, the Commission’s ongoing investigation, launched last year, into how Apple Pay is the only contactless payment service allowed on iOS devices, may factor into its considerations of Epic’s argument that Apple’s operating system should be open to competing stores.