Epic Games has apparently waged war on Apple Inc. and Google for their app stores. The company recently started a direct payment channel for its users of Fortnite. This would circumvent the fee that players usually pay to Apple and Google for accessing their payment facilitation. The lawsuit has been filed in a California district court. The Apple case is Epic Games Inc. v. Apple Inc., 20-cv-05640, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California (San Francisco).
Soon after, Apple responded by pulling Fortnite off the play store. Google quickly followed the move, which responded by removing Fornite from its play store as well. However, unlike Apple, Google also pointed out that Android phones have multiple app stores to use and not just the designated Play Store.
The point of view from Apple Inc. and Google.
Apple made a statement to the Verge. Where they said, app store guidelines are applied equally to every developer. And every developer must follow said guidelines to maintain a safe ecosystem. Apple added. For the past many years, Epic Games has benefitted from the play store ecosystem that apple provides, and Epic had agreed to the guidelines freely. To which they are not in direct violation.
Epic Games Point of View
Epic is conducting its own campaign to fight this move from Apple and Google. Currently, to all its existing Fornite users, Epic Games provides a 20% discount on all the products compared to the prices that exist on Apple and Google’s app stores. Over the years, the grievances have increased vastly on the fee increases on the app store. Earlier, developers had to pay only 15%, but recently it was notched up to 30%. It would be interesting to see if other app developers take note and follow in Epic’s footsteps.
Reaction from Other Developers
Facebook was the first to offer support to the case of Epic Games. The company came forward in December 2020 during pre-trial to offer full support to Epic Games. They further added that the company has collected its own information on the play store policies and plans to share it with Epic Games.
Spotify & Match Group
Spotify and Match Group are two other companies that followed suit after Facebook’s announcement. The companies believed the price cut on play stores to be extremely steep. The Spotify CEO, Tim Sweeney, also pointed out that the app stores favor different companies differently. For instance, in many situations, the App Store offers discounted opportunities for payment for Amazon. He termed it “window dressing” and requested regulators to act on urgency. One example is Apple giving a full 30% exemption on the purchase of rental movies on Amazon’s Prime Video app.
It may be of note that Spotify has previously urged its users to make purchases through its website rather than app stores in 2015.
Together, Epic Games, Spotify, and Match Group have formed an organization called “Coalition for App Fairness.” Abbreviated as CAF, the organization is seated in Washington, D.C. And aims to work towards better and more transparent app stores that benefit developers equally.
Both the parties requested a Judge trial instead of a jury verdict, to which the court agreed. The hearing will begin in May 2021.
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