The company behind Fortnite filed an antitrust lawsuit against Apple after the popular game was removed from the app store on Thursday.
Epic’s complaint against Apple comes at a time of rising discontent against the latter from app developers. Apple calls for a 15% to 30% cut on payments and subscriptions made within its apps—a price tag that’s deeply frustrated app makers.
Earlier this year, the European Union opened up a probe into Apple’s App Store after Spotify and Rakuten complained of the high revenue cuts which they believed favored Apple’s in-house products. Others have sought to bypass the issue altogether by not offering in-app purchases, a la Netflix.
“Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic’s lawsuit against Apple read. “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear.”
The chronology of this particular story is worth attention. While Apple requires direct payments through its apps so that it can take its commission, Epic implemented early Thursday its own payments system that bypassed the usual Apple pipelines, in violation of the rules. Apple removed the game from the App Store shortly thereafter. On the same day, Epic released its lawsuit with media flair. Through the Fortnite Twitter account, Epic tweeted out a copy of the suit paired with a short film that parodied a famous Apple commercial, alluding to George Orwell’s 1984.
And that’s the thing with the tweet and video: Apple owns and created the app store, which will likely be a tenet of any defense. It’s a business the company undoubtedly will guard closely, given that it sits within the tech giant’s second largest segment by revenue. But Epic’s provocative and press-luring argument is catching the crowd and times—especially with the heat over Apple’s distribution rules and practices.
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