This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl.
Apple has issued a new statement regarding its dispute with Epic Games, the developer of the popular Fortnite game that was wiped from the store for fee avoidance.
Epic claims that if Apple suspended Epic's developer account as warned, it would make it impossible to develop and validate iOS / macOS apps, causing irreparable damage not only to its own Fortnite, but also to the apps of other companies that use Epic's Unreal Engine game engine. The company asked the district court for an injunction.
Apple's comments on this can be summarized as "no special treatment of Epic (for violating the developer guidelines)", "the trouble Epic caused itself could easily be avoided by simply undoing the offending parts of Fortnite", and "the safety of Apple users takes precedence over Epic's interests".
A brief summary of the ongoing Epic vs. Apple debate can be found below.
The App Store charges a 30% fee every time not only for the sale of paid apps, but also for the purchase of in-game currency and items.
Epic has long argued that this "30% store tax" is unfair as it abuses its monopoly position of not being able to choose a store.
Epic has added "Epic Direct Payment" to its popular Fortnite game, allowing players to buy in-game currency, V-Bucks, directly from Epic at a discount without paying a 30% fee to Apple.
Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store, citing a violation of developer guidelines.
Epic appeals the removal, arguing in federal court that Apple's rules are illegal because they abuse its monopoly position with no other app distribution or payment options, and that the rules themselves are invalid.
At the same time, the company releases a parody commercial video depicting Apple as the dictator Big Brother and launches a campaign to drum up support for the company using the #FreeFortnite hashtag.
Apple warns Epic that unless it removes the direct purchase option from Fortnite by August 28, it will terminate Epic's developer accounts and disable access to the development tools.
Epic claimed that Apple's warning was to retaliate against the lawsuit, and if the developer's account was terminated, they would be unable to develop and support their own game engine, Unreal Engine for iOS and macOS, which would have a great impact on other companies.
(Games using the Unreal Engine on iOS include PUBG Mobile, Pro Evolution Soccer, Mortal Kombat, and Life is Strange, for example.)
For more on Epic's intentions and background, see our previous articles.
From Apple's point of view, it's a deliberate and clear violation of the terms and conditions so they can respond quietly, and the external statements are the same as before: "All developers on the same terms" and "for the safety of our users".
From Epic's point of view, the goal is not to fight the violation of the terms and conditions as a conviction, but to take the removal of Fortnite and the ease of stopping the Unreal Engine (for iOS / macOS), which affects other companies, to the public, legislative, and judiciary that Apple's terms and conditions have antitrust issues and are detrimental to consumers because they impede fair competition.
There are many layers to how the antitrust laws are determined, and it doesn't make much sense to state a win-lose prediction on either side. On the other hand, there has been a flurry of debate in the U.S. about whether new regulations are needed to regulate powerful so-called GAFA platform companies to see if they are abusing their position to be anti-competitive, and just the other day, U.S. House Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust called the heads of the companies, including Apple's Tim Cook, for a hearing.
"Apple treats all developers equally (so there is healthy competition, not harming the interests of consumers)" is an official stance that Cook has reiterated in his testimony before the subcommittee. Other than that, the App Store faces stiff competition from Google Play, the PlayStation Store, the Microsoft Store, etc., and is not dominant in any of these markets, and does not constitute an abuse, etc.
(Evidence was brought up at the hearing that Apple was offering 15% rather than 30% to Amazon under certain conditions.)
This article is based on an article from the Japanese edition of Engadget and was created using the translation tool Deepl. The Japanese edition of Engadget does not guarantee the accuracy or reliability of this article.