Epic Games Fights Apple's 30% Tax
A quick reminder of the facts: in August 2020, Epic Games orchestrated a stunt against Apple and Google by blaming them for the 30% tax imposed by the two firms on companies wishing to be promoted in their respective application stores. After Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store for not complying with its guidelines, Epic Games sued the Cupertino firm in the hope of breaking its monopoly, also criticized by giants such as Spotify and Facebook. For its part, Apple assures that this amount is necessary to guarantee the security of the App Store as well as the protection of users' privacy.
If you want to know the beginnings of the conflict, you can read our article about Apple and Fortnite.
A detrimental decision for the video game publisher
On Friday, October 09, 2020, a federal judge released his decision regarding the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games over the popular game Fortnite. As a reminder, the apple firm removed Fortnite from the App Store after discovering that Epic Games had circumvented its 30% tax policy on app-embedded purchases by using its own payment application.
Payments made by Fortnite's players - who number in the millions around the world - were made directly to Epic Games instead of through Apple's integrated payment system, which according to the technology company, was a cause for breach of its contract with the game publisher and led to Fortnite's withdrawal from the App Store.
Epic Games filed a lawsuit against Apple in August, asking the court to force Apple to reinstate the game in its App Store and prevent the company from retaliating against its software and overseas subsidiaries.
For the American judge, Epic Games is at fault in this case
Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers rendered her decision on Friday, October 09, 2020. The magistrate did not grant the request of game publisher Fortnite regarding the reinstatement of the game in the App Store. However, the judge prohibited Apple from punishing Unreal Engine, an engine owned by Epic Games and widely used by game developers, or Epic affiliates.
The judge also upheld Apple's decision to remove Fortnite from its App Store, citing that "Epic Games has never satisfactorily explained its readiness, other than by its contempt for the situation. The current impasse is of its own making. No one would lose face if the goal is to protect consumers, Fortnite's mobile players. The court even offered to sequestrate the 30% pending resolution of the lawsuit, but Epic Games rejected the idea. This rejection suggests that Epic Games is more concerned with tactical maneuvers than with consumers on iOS.
Fortnite players on Apple devices will have to be patient until May
Because yes, this court decision means that Fortnite players on Apple devices will no longer be able to access the latest version of the game or download updates that would ensure a better gaming experience. Nevertheless, Apple and Epic Games are expected to appear in court again on May 3, 2021 unless Epic Games agrees to fully comply with the terms of the original contract.
In any event, Apple has indicated that it is satisfied with this court decision and is awaiting the next court appearance. In a statement reported by TechCrunch, the technology firm said :
"We’re grateful the court recognized that Epic’s actions were not in the best interests of its own customers and that any problems they may have encountered were of their own making when they breached their agreement. For twelve years, the App Store has been an economic miracle, creating transformative business opportunities for developers large and small. We look forward to sharing this legacy of innovation and dynamism with the court next year."
While waiting for the situation to unlock, you can give to your phone (iPhone or Samsung) a new skin with our Fortnite phone case to be ready when the game is back !
The battle between big firms is not over yet
But Epic Games is no longer alone in this crusade, and has joined forces with a dozen other companies, including Deezer and Spotify. Under the banner "Coalition for App Fairness", they want to change the regulations on app stores.
They criticize mobile platform operators - mainly Apple (iOS) and Google (Android) - for being both judge and jury and crushing competition by favoring their own products.
It remains to be seen whether Epic Games will hold on to its position or make concessions to Apple. Wait and see.