Why We Fight
Epic gave Fortnite players on iOS and Google Play a choice between Apple/Google payment and Epic direct payment, passing on savings to direct purchasers. Both Apple and Google retaliated by blocking Fortnite updates. Further, Apple threatened to prevent Epic from creating software for all Apple devices — not just on Fortnite but all of our games, and Unreal Engine too.
Apple demanded that Epic revert Fortnite to exclusively use Apple payments. Their proposal was an invitation for Epic to collude with Apple to maintain its monopoly over in-app payments on iOS, suppressing free market competition and inflating prices. As a matter of principle, we refused to do so.
You, as a mobile device owner, have the right to install apps from sources of your choosing. Software makers have the right to freely express their ideas and to compete in a fair marketplace. Apple and Google’s policies take these freedoms away.
Apple’s policies are so restrictive that they block gaming services like Microsoft xCloud, NVIDIA GeForce NOW, and Google Stadia from existing on iOS. Apple’s policies would have even blocked the World Wide Web if it had been invented after the iPhone, because Apple policies disallow running code not reviewed by Apple, accepting payments directly from customers, and accessing content not reviewed by Apple — all fundamental features of the web. These policies, together with Apple’s chilling enforcement strategy, directly impede innovation and invention of entirely new kinds of apps, games, and businesses.
Epic is one of the many game developers who have long worked to advance better and fairer platform practices, such as cross-platform gameplay, communication, accounts, and items in Fortnite on 7 platforms (though now only 6). We are committed to securing lasting freedoms for all. This is why we fight.
What We Are Fighting For
Two companies, Apple and Google, should not have a stranglehold over how people access the internet on their mobile devices. Leveling the playing field for developers and giving consumers control over their mobile devices will require:
Competition in app distribution. Consumers should be able to access apps wherever they want to - whether it’s from Apple or Google’s app stores, an alternative app store or directly from a developer.
Competition in in-app payments. Google and Apple must be prohibited from using their control over Android and iOS app distribution to force developers to use their payment systems and charge a monopoly tax. Allowing developers to offer alternative payment options for in-app purchases would lower prices for consumers.
Prevent Apple and Google from circumventing the laws. Policymakers and regulators who are working to open the mobile app ecosystem to competition must bar Apple and Google from shifting their anticompetitive practices and taxes to services they don’t provide, for example for payments processed by third party providers.
Together, these three pillars will open up the mobile app market to competition and end Apple and Google’s harmful practices.
Epic has taken legal action to end Apple and Google’s anti-competitive restrictions on mobile device marketplaces around the world.
Apple Legal Proceedings
August 13, 2020: Epic files a Complaint for Injunctive Relief with the United States District Court, Northern District of California, commencing legal proceedings against Apple in the US [link]
August 17, 2020: Epic files a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order against Apple [link]
August 23, 2020: Epic files a Reply Brief in Support of the Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order against Apple [link]
September 4, 2020: Epic files a Motion for a Preliminary Injunction against Apple [link]
April 8, 2021: Epic files Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law [link]
May 28, 2021: Epic files updated Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law after the conclusion of the Epic v. Apple trial concluded [link]
January 20, 2022: Epic files Opening Brief with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [link]
January 27, 2022: Amici file briefs in Epic's appeal with the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [link]
May 25, 2022: Epic files a Reply Brief on Appeal and Response Brief on Cross Appeal of Appellant [link]
September 27, 2023: Epic files a cert petition with the United States Supreme Court [link]
November 16, 2020: Epic files a legal claim in the Federal Court of Australia, commencing legal proceedings against Apple in Australia [link]
February 2021: Epic files an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union with the European Commission [link]
March 2021: Epic files a complaint in support of the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) investigation into Apple’s App Store policies [link]
Google Legal Proceedings
August 13, 2020: Epic files a Complaint for Injunctive Relief with the United States District Court, Northern District of California, commencing legal proceedings against Google in the US [link]
August 20, 2021: Epic files an amended Complaint in its legal proceedings against Google [link]
November 15, 2021: Epic files an Answer and Defenses in response to Google’s Counterclaims [link]
April 28, 2022: Epic files a Notice of Motion and Motion for a Preliminary Injunction [link]
May 20, 2022: Epic and Google file a Joint Stipulation and Proposed Order regarding Epic's Request for Preliminary Injunction [link]
October 13, 2022: Epic and other plaintiffs file a Notice of Motion for Sanctions [link]
November 17, 2022: Epic files a Second Amended Complaint for Injunctive Relief [link]
March 8, 2021: Epic files a legal claim in the Federal Court of Australia, commencing legal proceedings against Google in Australia [link]
May 23, 2022: Epic submits comments to the National Telecommunications and Information on the Report on Competition in the Mobile App Ecosystem [link]
April 1, 2022: Epic submits comments to Australia Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) on the Digital Platform Services Inquiry [link]
February 10, 2022: Epic submits a response to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) Interim Report on Mobile Ecosystems [link]
Why are players blocked by Apple and Google from updating Fortnite?
After we added direct Epic payments to save players up to 20%, Apple and Google retaliated by blocking Fortnite players from installing and updating the game through the App Store and Google Play. Apple and Google demand that game developers use their payment processing service, which charge an exorbitant rate of 30%. Apple and Google block developers from using more efficient payment methods such as Mastercard (including Apple Card), Visa, and PayPal, which charge rates of 2.5% to 3.5%, and therefore prevent developers from passing the savings on to customers.
January 30, 2023 Update: Beginning January 30, Fortnite players using the 13.40 app build previously available on iOS, Mac, and Android via Google Play can no longer spend V-Bucks and must be over 18 to play. We want all versions of our games to use the current suite of Epic Online Services including parental controls, purchasing defaults, and parental verification features. We are not able to update the app on these platforms given Apple and Google’s restrictions on Fortnite.
Why shouldn't Apple and Google collect 30% on App Store and Google Play sales? Aren't they providing the store where developers sell software?
Apple intentionally locks down consumer iOS devices to prevent users from installing software directly from developers, as consumers are free to do on PC and Mac. We know this is an intentional strategy because iOS does fully support installing software from the web -- but only allows it for corporations. Apple uses this direct-installation blockade in order to force consumers to use their App Store, and then demands that developers use their payment processing service. By blocking consumer choice in software installation, Apple has created a problem so they can profit from the solution.
Google’s strategy is distinct: Google advertises Android as an open platform, and Android devices support installation of third-party software such as Fortnite and the Epic Games App from the web. However, Google obstructs software installation and updates with scary warning screens that place third-party software sources at a disadvantage to Google Play, and uses its Google Apps suite contracts with carriers to obstruct pre-installation of competing stores on Android smartphones. As a result, Google Play has a vast majority of Android store market share in territories where it’s available.
Didn’t Apple and Google announce that they are lowering the fee for some developers to 15 percent? Isn’t that a good thing?
While a reduction in the Apple and Google app taxes may alleviate a small part of the financial burden developers have been shouldering, this does not address the root of the issue. Whether it’s 15% or 30%, for apps obtained through the App Store or Google Play Store, developers are forced to use their proprietary in-app payment services. iOs and Android need to be fully open to competition, with a genuinely level playing field among platform companies, app creators, and service providers. Competition in payment processing and app distribution is the only path to a fair app marketplace.
What outcome does Epic hope for to resolve this blockade from both Apple and Google?
Epic’s position is that all mobile developers and consumers have the right to choose alternate payment providers that charge less, as is the norm on all other general-purpose computing platforms, including Web, Windows, and Mac. We expect to see a general change in smartphone practices industry-wide for all developers that brings greater value and freedom of choice to consumers. We expect Apple and Google to unblock Fortnite.
Do Apple and Google block all apps from processing direct payments?
No. Apple and Google allow thousands of apps on the App Store and Google Play to accept direct payments, including commonly used apps like Amazon, Grubhub, Nike SNKRS, Best Buy, DoorDash, Fandango, McDonald's, and StubHub. Apple and Google are just blocking direct payments for certain products (like games) and companies (like Epic).
Epic believes that all mobile users have a right to save money using more efficient purchasing options. Adding our own payment system allows us to offer players choice while passing along savings, just like other apps are allowed to do. This choice provides a more level playing field on mobile stores while saving players money, which Apple and Google should agree is a positive thing for everyone!
Does a new payment method on mobile mean purchases there are less safe?
No. In operating Fortnite on open platforms and operating the Epic Games Store, Epic has processed over $1,600,000,000 of direct payments successfully, and uses industry trusted encryption and security measures to protect customer transactions.
Clearly Apple and Google acknowledge that third party payment services are safe and acceptable for goods and services. Epic direct payment simply offers players the same kinds of payment options as these other apps.
Why don't you offer purchases outside of the app, as Netflix did with their subscriptions?
This is a user-unfriendly solution. Apple even prohibits apps like Netflix from even telling customers how to pay for their subscription services outside of the app. Epic wants to give all customers simple, in-app purchasing options free of obstruction.
Why doesn’t Epic capitulate to Apple and Google’s demand to remove Epic direct payment?
We have chosen to fight Apple and Google’s policies on behalf of all consumers and their right to have access to more efficient payment methods and to receive the best prices available.
Apple and Google have rules. Why is Epic expecting an exception to those rules?
We don't seek a special exception for Epic. We firmly believe both Apple and Google’s policies must be changed for all developers. For over a decade, Apple and Google have crafted and proliferated a tangled web of rules and policies to impose a 30% tax on apps while preventing competitors from offering a better deal. That’s around 10x more than what a typical transaction may cost on competing payment processing services such as Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal, which charge rates of 2.5% to 3.5%. When competition is stifled, the customer always loses.
Their rules are designed to cement their monopolies, to limit consumer choice, and to stifle competition in digital goods specifically. Apple and Google don’t force customers to use their payment system to add 30% to the price of their dinner when they purchase a meal through Grubhub or DoorDash. Apple even allows Amazon Prime Video to process payments directly as a special deal while holding other apps to a different standard. So why do customers have to use Apple and Google’s payment services and increase their prices to pay a 30% app tax for games such as Fortnite? There’s no good reason.
Why is Epic advocating for open mobile platforms?
Mobile devices are essential computing devices upon which we conduct our social and professional lives and engage in education, commerce and entertainment. Apple and Google cannot rightly control the terms of physical and digital commerce and use their monopoly power over devices to prevent competition in payment processing, stores, and app curation. Apple and Google have artificially restricted iOS and Google Play so that there is no competition, so that creators earn less, and so that consumers are forced to pay higher prices. There’s no reason why smartphone app stores and payment processing should function any differently than a personal computer.
What if a player wants a refund?
Unfortunately, Apple does not allow Epic Games to directly refund players and instead require players to ask Apple directly for a refund. Please follow these instructions to ask Apple for a refund.
Note: On August 28, 2020, we issued a full refund to all customers who made purchases on iOS through Epic direct payment before August 28, 2020. There’s no action needed on your part and you will retain V-Bucks and items purchased.
Google players can submit a refund request by contacting Epic customer support at https://www.epicgames.com/customer-service. Refunds may be granted upon eligibility.
Where can I read more on this topic?
What Apple’s Fortnite Fee Battle Is Really About
Apple, Its Control Over the iPhone, The Internet, And The Metaverse
He believed Apple’s App Store was safe. Then a fake app stole his life savings in bitcoin.
Google accused by developer of retaliation for cooperating with House antitrust investigation
About Epic Games
Founded in 1991, Epic Games is an American company founded by CEO Tim Sweeney. The company is headquartered in Cary, North Carolina and has more than 40 offices worldwide. Today Epic is a leading interactive entertainment company and provider of 3D engine technology. Epic operates Fortnite, one of the world’s largest games with over 350 million accounts and 2.5 billion friend connections. Epic also develops Unreal Engine, which powers the world’s leading games and is also adopted across industries such as film and television, architecture, automotive, manufacturing, and simulation. Through Unreal Engine, Epic Games Store, and Epic Online Services, Epic provides an end-to-end digital ecosystem for developers and creators to build, distribute, and operate games and other content.