Epic Games files EU antitrust complaint against Apple

The Fortnite developer has accused the tech giant of “abusive conduct” that breaches European competition laws

Several EU flags being flown outside a glass building and against a backdrop of blue sky

Epic Games has taken its App Store dispute with Apple to Europe, where it's filed a complaint that accuses the tech giant of “abusive conduct” that breaches competition laws.

The developer has been locked in a legal battle with Apple since August 2020, when it filed a lawsuit against the company in the US for removing Fortnite from the App Store.

The removal of the app came after Epic Games promised its customers a 20% discount if they chose to purchase in-game currency directly from Fortnite rather than through the app, in order to avoid paying Apple's 30% ‘tax’.

However, progress has been slow, with a court case date scheduled to begin on 3 May 2021. By filing a complaint with the European Commission (EC), Epic is hoping to achieve justice sooner rather than later.

Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney announced the EU action on Tuesday, saying "the very future of mobile platforms" are at stake.

“Consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing and developers have the right to compete in a fair marketplace. We will not stand idly by and allow Apple to use its platform dominance to control what should be a level digital playing field," he said.

"It’s bad for consumers, who are paying inflated prices due to the complete lack of competition among stores and in-app payment processing. And it’s bad for developers, whose very livelihoods often hinge on Apple’s complete discretion as to who to allow on the iOS platform, and on which terms."

Epic has also filed complaints in Australia and the UK. However, the company added that, as opposed to the previous three filings, it “is not seeking damages from Apple”, but “simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit consumers and developers”.

The EC is already investigating whether Apple's rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store violate EU competition rules. This followed a complaint from Spotify, which argued that Apple uses its App Store to stifle innovation and limit consumer choice in favour of its own services.

Apple described Epic’s behaviour as “reckless”, Reuters, reports, adding that the game developer “made pawns of customers”.

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