The maker of video game Fortnite, Epic Games Inc, has filed a federal lawsuit in the US against Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Alphabet Inc’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Google after the game was removed from the companies' app stores.
Both of the tech giants removed the game following the introduction of a direct payment feature within the app, which was classed as a violation of their app store rules. The feature allowed players to purchase Fornite’s in-game currency directly from Epic, bypassing Apple and depriving the firm of its usual 30% cut from sales made through its mandatory payment system.
Google also takes a cut from sales made through its Android payment system, although it does allow app developers to direct users to other payment options. The company said Epic’s decision had also violated their app store rule requiring developers to use its in-app billing system for products sold within games.
Epic said it is not seeking money from the tech giants in its lawsuit, but rather injunctions that will end certain practices permitted on their app stores.
In court documents filed in Northern California, Epic alleged that Apple is engaged in anticompetitive practices to maintain a monopoly that effectively allows it to control what apps are available on its iPhones as well as forcing the use of its own payment system along with the 30% cut.
However, Apple hit back saying that Epic had introduced the payment option to Fortnite with the express intention of violating App Store guidelines and having the game removed, possibly to garner user support and help establish its own competing app store for users.
The bans mean Apple’s Fortnite players will not be able to install the game or update it, although those with copies already installed will still be able to play, while Android users may still be able to launch the app through Epic’s own launcher.
Fortnite is one of the most popular apps on iPhone and Android, as well as one of Epic’s most profitable games, meaning the ban could potentially hit the incomes of all three firms involved in the dispute.
Epic’s accusations of Apple’s anticompetitive practices also follows a recent grilling of the CEOs of the tech giants by the US Congress over concerns their size is allowing them to dominate the market and crush competitors.