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EPIC vs App Store Giants : The Story So Far

After the appeal to the bench of the US District Court, now Epic is taking both app store giants, Google and Apple to Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT). But Why it matters to us?

It all started from the day when the FORTNITE maker realized it’s high time to break the monopoly of the App store giants and to introduce its own custom in-app purchasing using the V-bucks where the user will get a straight discount on purchases upon using the game’s own payment method instead of Apple’s In-App purchasing system. This change was made on 13th August and was rolled out globally after which Apple removed the game FORTNITE from the app store making itself stand before the bench of jurisdiction. It forced Epic to file a lawsuit against the Apple monopoly over the Appstore charging a straight 30% cut which is too much for a game developer to lose. Not just Apple but after the removal of FORTNITE from the Play Store, Epic didn’t miss a chance to drag Google to the legal bench and hence filed a lawsuit against the Android App store lord too.


The base of the lawsuit was the anti-trust and the anti-competition environment created by Apple and Google on their respective fields and entertaining them while restricting several developers to sustain the hefty fees put out by these store owners. Though Google agreed to work and discuss with the Epic Games regarding the re-instate of FORTNITE on Play Store subject to a few conditions, Apple was clear enough to close the road for FORTNITE to re-enter the Appstore ever again. On Aug 17, 2020, Apple informed Epic of removing all the access from the developer console which will hinder and impact severely the Unreal Engine development and the user using the engine. This was, however, rejected by the bench on 24th August 2020 stating it would have a serious impact on the industry and the users of Unreal Engine but the call for FORTNITE coming back to Appstore was still on stay.


Apple being a serious taker of the Rules filed a Countersuit on 8th September 2020 stating that Epic violated the contract while damaging the monetary system of Apple's In-App System. Further, Apple made sure to remove all such apps developed by Epic having its own In-App purchases. Moreover, the take of Google for Epics case was a bit different and they were willing to discuss this and get this settled soon. The situation against Google was under control and was not as harsh as Apple store policy.


After filing a case in United States district court now Epic is dragging Google and Apple towards the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal claiming the monopoly of Google and Apple over their stores and practicing unfair means of restricting the competition. It also claims that the practices made by Google and Apple in the UK and Eu region are completely anti-competitive. With that being said now Epic is asking for relief on various aspects including re-instating the FORTNITE to the Appstore again. This might be considered as the same appeal made by Epic before the US bench.



The Effect


But the main point that arises here is, why it actually matters? Why Epic lawsuit is taken as a high priority in the Game Industry? How we all are connected with it? Well, the simple answer is, the verdict of the final hearing will decide the store publishing of the upcoming future. It will decide whether we should rely on those App Store giants to rule over the marketplace or should we opt for something else. This isn’t a case of two companies but also the concern of developers like us to sustain in this predominant competition. The result will decide the way to mark our place or to be out of the game.


The effect of this whole matter was visible in the industry as many companies started to revise their policy to adhere to the current situation benefiting the developers and the users both instead of thinking about their own business single-handly. Companies like Facebook and Spotify supported Epic over the matter sharing their previous experiences. However, things started to take a better shape when Apple released its first-ever revenue cut in December 2020 for the small developers having a gross revenue of less than $1M. Not just Apple but Microsoft also came forward with a better-revised policy promising the transparency of the Store’s guidelines while ensuring the developers not to remove any app in the near future.


As mentioned above the effect could be seen in the Game Industry, how big companies like Microsoft and Facebook coming forward to adhere to the changes developers want. Even Apple decided to cut off straight to 15% after the escalation of the Epic case. A decision like this is, however, a major advantage to all the small developers who are still struggling with not just the hefty fees but also from the strict rules of these app stores. At current, the final verdict of the Epics case really matters as it would mainly decide over the fees charged by Apple and Google will still stay intact or might subject to change. This will give a sigh of relief to many developers as this was a big cut for them to let go from their pocket. Not just fees but it will also focus on the anti-competition practices going over the App Store. Changes like this are meant to be implemented as soon as possible because each year hundreds of developers are facing such issues and it’s already a long span for such things to happen over time. Though this is what we think as one part of the story, we would love to hear from you what’s your views on this.


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