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Epic Games vs. Apple: Button Brawl Heats Up as Epic Calls in EU Commission

Epic Games vs. Apple: Button Brawl Heats Up as Epic Calls in EU Commission
Credit: The Indian Express

The ongoing saga between Epic Games, developer of the popular game Fortnite, and tech giant Apple takes another turn. This time, the battleground is the European Union’s recently enacted Digital Markets Act (DMA), and the weapon of choice: button design.

Epic Accuses Apple of Stifling Competition with “Frivolous” Rejections

On July 5th, 2024, Epic Games filed a complaint with the European Commission, accusing Apple of violating the DMA by rejecting their submission for the Epic Games Store app on iOS devices in the EU. The crux of the issue lies in Apple’s twice-rejected notarization of the app, a security process required for all iOS apps.

According to Epic, Apple claimed the rejection stemmed from similarities between the “Install” and “In-app purchases” buttons in the Epic Games Store app and Apple’s own “Get” and “In-App Purchases” labels. Epic maintains this is a “frivolous” reason and a deliberate attempt to stifle competition in the app market, a violation of the DMA.

Apple’s rejection is arbitrary, obstructive, and in violation of the DMA,” stated Epic Games in a press release. “We’ve shared our concerns with the European Commission.”

The move comes just weeks after Apple announced it would be allowing alternative app stores and payment systems on iOS devices in the EU, in compliance with the DMA. This was seen as a victory for Epic, who have long argued against Apple’s control over app distribution and in-app purchases on their devices.

A History of Friction: The Epic vs. Apple Lawsuit

This latest skirmish is merely the most recent chapter in a long-running battle between Epic and Apple. In 2020, Epic implemented a hotfix in Fortnite that allowed players to bypass Apple’s in-app purchase system, which takes a 30% commission on all transactions. This move violated Apple’s developer agreement, leading to the removal of Fortnite from the App Store and a subsequent lawsuit filed by Epic.

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The lawsuit, which is still ongoing, centered around Apple’s alleged anti-competitive practices in the App Store. Epic argued that Apple’s control over app distribution and in-app purchases created a monopoly, stifling competition and innovation. The case has significant implications for the entire app development industry, with potential ramifications for other major tech companies like Google.

The DMA: A Game Changer for App Distribution?

The European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) is a landmark piece of legislation aimed at regulating the behavior of large technology companies. It came into effect in March 2024 and specifically targets “gatekeepers,” companies with a dominant position in a particular market. Under the DMA, gatekeepers are prohibited from engaging in certain practices, including:

  • Self-preferencing their own services over those of competitors.
  • Restricting interoperability with other platforms.
  • Making it unfairly difficult for developers to access their platform.

The DMA has the potential to significantly reshape the app market in Europe. By allowing alternative app stores and payment systems, it could give developers more flexibility and potentially lower costs for consumers.

Apple has been vocal in its criticism of the DMA, arguing that it stifles innovation and weakens security on Apple devices. However, the European Commission has remained firm in its stance, believing the DMA is necessary to create a fairer and more competitive digital market.

What’s Next? The Commission Investigates

With Epic’s complaint filed, the ball is now in the European Commission’s court. The Commission will investigate Epic’s claims and determine whether Apple has indeed violated the DMA. If found guilty, Apple could face hefty fines, potentially reaching into the billions of euros.

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More importantly, the Commission’s ruling could set a precedent for how the DMA is enforced in the future. A decision in Epic’s favor would be a significant boost for the DMA’s effectiveness and could lead to further challenges against Apple and other tech giants.

The outcome of this case will be closely watched by developers, consumers, and the tech industry as a whole. It has the potential to reshape the app market in the EU and potentially beyond, with implications for how tech companies operate globally.

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About the author

Ade Blessing

Ade Blessing is a professional content writer. As a writer, he specializes in translating complex technical details into simple, engaging prose for end-user and developer documentation. His ability to break down intricate concepts and processes into easy-to-grasp narratives quickly set him apart.

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