If you’ve been keeping up with the politics behind video games, you’ve probably heard of the bad blood between two of the largest tech companies in the gaming market. Epic Games and Apple have been embroiled in a lawsuit for months, and the trial has just seen its final day. Apple will no longer be allowed to prevent developers from linking to other in-app payment options but has avoided being categorized as a “monopoly” under antitrust law.
As the Washington Post reports, the trial was sparked after Fortnite was removed from the Apple store for including links which bypassed Apple’s in-app payment in lieu of a notably cheaper option to use the Epic Games store instead. Epic argued that this was monopolistic and should be illegal under the antitrust law, which the court agreed with, describing Apple’s practices as “anticompetitive” in nature.
However, the judge took issue with both parties in the case, citing that neither had properly defined the “relevant markets” at play. Ultimately, she defined the relevant market as “digital mobile gaming transactions: “A category that’s just a bit too large to claim that Apple is monopolizing it. So, while Apple will have to give developers the chance to advertise their own in-app payment options and bypass Apple’s 30% commission fees, there will be no other action taken against the tech giant.
On the other hand, Apple’s counter-suit against Epic for their breach of contract has actually been decided in favor of Apple. Epic will have to pay Apple the 30% commission fee for any and all revenue collected during Fortnite’s brief stint on the Apple store, totaling nearly four million dollars.
Either side still has the option to appeal to a higher court, so it’s possible we haven’t seen the end of this case. Tim Sweeny has tweeted a statement on behalf of Epic, stating that “Fortnite will return to the iOS App Store when and where Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment, passing along the savings to consumers.”
Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers. https://t.co/cGTBxThnsP
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 10, 2021
Thanks to everyone who put so much time and effort into the battle over fair competition on digital platforms, and thanks especially to the court for managing a very complex case on a speedy timeline. We will fight on.