In a lawsuit that is taking the tech industry by surprise, especially considering the rumors, widely discounted, that Apple might buy TikTok, it appears Epic Games, the creator of "Fortnite", has just filed a lawsuit against Apple, accusing it of "unfair and anti-competitive actions....undertaken....to maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multibillion dollar markets: (i) the iOS App Distribution Market, and (ii) the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market (each as defined below)."
Clearly intended to be widely quoted in the press, the summary of the 65-page filing included bombastic language directed at the monolithic consumer tech behemoth and world's most valuable company. Perhaps the most striking was a paragraph contrasting Apple's recent behavior to its infamous "1984" add accusing IBM of anticompetitive practices.
"Fast forward to 2020, and Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear. At a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history..."
VentureBeat is calling it the "App Store War": Earlier, Apple deleted Fortnite from its App Store for installing a direct-payment system for the popular game, which cut out Apple's sales infrastructure, including its lucrative fee-collection machine. Apple has long maintained that fees like this are more akin to electricity bills, than onerous, anticompetitive penalties. Now, Epic Games is taking a stand against the Cupertino tech behemoth.
Shots have been fired in what could be a gigantic App Store war. Apple deleted Fortnite after Epic Games deliberately violated terms of service by adding a direct payment for the popular game, cutting out Apple from sales.
Epic Games announced its Fortnite "mega drop," a permanent discount on V-bucks (Fortnite’s in-game currency) and other cash purchases in the game of up to 20%. It also introduced a new direct-payment option. If you purchased V-bucks in the game through the iOS App Store or Google Play, the cost is the same as it used to be. But under the new direct option, the discount is included.
There’s a lot at stake in this battle. Measurement firm Sensor Tower said Fortnite saw approximately 2.4 million installs in the last 30 days and generated $43.4 million in consumer spending on the App Store globally. To date, the game has reached 133.2 million installs and seen $1.2 billion in spending worldwide on the App Store alone.
The lawsuit comes just weeks before Apple CEO Tim Cook - aka "Tim Apple" - joined Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos and Alphabet's Sundar Pitchai in front of the House Judiciary Committee for a hearing on anticompetitive practices in the tech industry, an issue that has plagued American jurisprudence since the late 1990s, when Bill Gates was in the hot seat.
Of course, the pressure isn't only coming from the US...Europe is redoubling its efforts to circumscribe American tech giants' role in the European digital marketplace.
Annnnnd two months after the Europeans opened official antitrust investigation into Apple's app store. I’d wager a few euros @vestager will be watching this play out with *some* interest. https://t.co/FTh64AAhhU— Mark Di Stefano (@MarkDiStef) August 13, 2020
Tim Sweeney, Epic's founder, tweeted a short film apparently explaining the situation 45 minutes ago, the title: "Nineteen-Eighty-Fortnite".
Fortnite Party Royale will premiere a new short: Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite. Join us at 4PM ET. pic.twitter.com/BWvndK3gDt— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020
Read the lawsuit below: