Epic Games, creator of the popular multi-platform game Fortnite, has filed a complaint in federal district court seeking injunctive relief after Apple booted the game from its App Store. The event was kicked off when Epic Games introduced the ability to pay for in-app purchases directly through Epic Games, rather than through Apple’s in-app payment processing. Apple requires that any in-app purchases for apps available in Apple’s App Store must be processed by Apple and that Apple collects a 30% commission on such sales.
Apple’s 30% commission has attracted criticism from app developers claiming that the commission is unfair and a product of anticompetitive practices. Developers must create apps for a particular operating system (“OS”), and in the case of iPhones and iPads, that includes the iPhone OS (“iOS”). Apps developed for the iOS must be specifically programmed and, as such, cannot be used for Android OS, Windows OS, or even Mac OS. Once the app is developed for the iOS, the app is solely distributed through Apple’s App Store, where apps compete against each other for consumer selection.
Epic Games described in their complaint that there are two markets in which Apple has engaged in anticompetitive conduct. The first is in the app-distribution market, where Apple’s App Store is the only method by which developers can sell their products to consumers. Second, Apple has engaged in anticompetitive conduct in the in-app payment processing market by not allowing other methods of payment processing.