Epic Games today announced it has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union (‘EU’), expanding the company’s fight to advance fairer digital platform practices for developers and consumers.
The complaint, filed with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition, alleges that through a series of carefully designed anti-competitive restrictions, Apple has not just harmed but completely eliminated competition in app distribution and payment processes. Apple uses its control of the iOS ecosystem to benefit itself while blocking competitors and its conduct is an abuse of a dominant position and in breach of EU competition law.
The complaint complements legal processes already underway in both the US and Australia, as well as Epic’s recent filing before the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal.
“What’s at stake here is the very future of mobile platforms.” Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney said today. “Consumers have the right to install apps from sources of their choosing and developers have the right to compete in a fair marketplace. We will not stand idly by and allow Apple to use its platform dominance to control what should be a level digital playing field. It’s bad for consumers, who are paying inflated prices due to the complete lack of competition among stores and in-app payment processing. And it’s bad for developers, whose very livelihoods often hinge on Apple’s complete discretion as to who to allow on the iOS platform, and on which terms.”
Epic has faced and been harmed by Apple’s anti-competitive restrictions across payments and app distribution. When Epic gave Fortnite players on iOS a choice between Apple payment and Epic direct payment, passing on savings to direct purchasers, Apple retaliated by blocking Fortnite updates. When Epic sought to bring the Epic Games Store to iOS, Apple declined. And while Apple has launched its own gaming distribution service, Apple Arcade, it has barred competitors including Epic from doing the same.
This is much bigger than Epic versus Apple – it goes to the heart of whether consumers and developers can do business together directly on mobile platforms or are forced to use monopoly channels against their wishes and interests. Epic has asked the Commission to address Apple's anti-competitive conduct by imposing timely and effective remedies. Epic is not seeking damages from Apple, as is the case in the US, Australia and the UK. It is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit consumers and developers.
Following complaints from other app developers, the European Commission is already investigating Apple’s abusive conduct.