Games

Dispute over Fortnite app reaches EU Commission

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© APA / AFP / CHRIS DELMAS / CHRIS DELMAS

The game developer Epic is opening a new front in the European Union in its stalled app store dispute with Apple. The US company behind the popular online game “Fortnite” filed a cartel complaint with the EU Commission on Wednesday. Apple used control of the iOS operating system on its iPhones to gain advantage and at the same time block competitors, argued Epic. The iPhone company defended its approach.

The conflict that has been going on in the USA since the summer could ultimately affect how apps are sold on smartphones – and how much money from the purchase price platforms such as Apple’s App Store or Google’s Play Store are allowed to withhold.

Criticism of commissions

Epic no longer wanted to adhere to the more than a decade-old requirement that virtual items in the game on iPhones and iPads could only be offered through Apple’s in-app purchases system. Apple keeps 30 percent of the purchase price. Instead, Epic would like to run its own app store on the iPhone.

After Apple rejected changes to the terms and conditions, the Epic developers built into the app the contractually prohibited option of being able to buy the items directly from Epic. For this purpose, a hidden function was activated in the application in August, which Epic had smuggled past Apple’s app reviewers.

Competition complaints

On the same day, Apple threw “Fortnite” with reference to the rule violation from the App Store. Epic immediately went to court in the US accusing Apple of unfair competition. Apple claims damages in a counterclaim. In a reaction to the complaint in the EU, the iPhone company accused Epic of using consumers as a deposit – and they wanted to show the Commission that. Apple is about offering users a secure app platform and treating all developers equally.

The EU Commission is already investigating a competition complaint from the music streaming market leader Spotify against Apple and is examining the competitive situation with the Apple Pay service.

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