A new front has opened up in Apple’s multi-front war with Epic Games over the technology giant’s app payments practices.
The developer of the popular “Fortnite” videogame said on Tuesday that it had filed a complaint with the U.K.’s Competition and Markets Authority, or CMA, amid the regulator’s investigation into Apple
for suspected anticompetitive behavior.
Apple and Epic Games have been at loggerheads since August 2020, when the videogames developer was booted off the App Store after it announced that “Fortnite” players would receive an in-game discount if they paid the company directly — and not through Apple. Epic Games launched a lawsuit against Apple in response.
All apps on Apple’s store must be approved by Apple and developers must agree to certain terms, including only distributing apps to iPhones and iPads via the App Store. Apple also charges a commission of up to 30% on app purchases or in-app payments.
Earlier in March, the CMA opened an investigation into Apple over whether the tech giant holds a dominant position over the distribution of apps on Apple devices in the U.K. The regulator said it would consider whether Apple imposes unfair or anticompetitive terms on developers using the App Store, and whether its dominant position results in customers having less choice or paying higher prices.
Epic Games’ complaint to the CMA is in support of the regulator’s ongoing investigation, and represents “an important step in Epic’s continued global fight for fairer digital platforms,” the company said.
The developer alleges that Apple’s behavior is anticompetitive and that its rules are prohibitively restrictive on the distribution of apps and payment processing.
“By kneecapping the competition and exerting its monopoly power over app distribution and payments, Apple strips U.K. consumers of the right to choose how and where they get their apps, while locking developers into a single marketplace that lets Apple charge any commission rate they choose,” claimed Tim Sweeney, Epic Games’ founder and chief executive.
“These harmful practices lead to artificially inflated costs for consumers, and stifle innovation among developers, many of whom are unable to compete in a digital ecosystem that is rigged against them,” Sweeney said.
The CMA’s investigation into the App Store and Apple’s payment rules is similar to a continuing investigation into Apple in the European Union. In February, Epic Games said it had lodged an antitrust complaint against Apple in the EU over the same App Store issues described to the CMA.
Epic Games is set to face off against Apple and Google parent Alphabet
in a U.S. court in May. The videogames developer is suing Alphabet alongside Apple over similar restrictions in place on its app store for Android devices. Epic Games has also commenced legal proceedings against Apple in Australia.
Epic Games’ attack against Apple and Alphabet in August drew the support of Spotify
The Swedish music streaming giant has made its own complaint about Apple to the EU, alleging that the company has abused its control over which apps appear in the App Store.
Epic Games’ fight for more developer freedoms against Apple and Alphabet comes amid heightened global interest in regulating the tech giants over the last year.
Alphabet and social-media giant Facebook
face antitrust suits in the U.S., and Big Tech faces intense pressure from new competition regulations in the EU over digital services and digital markets.
Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.