A sudden turn of events has seen Fortnite, the highly popular gaming application, getting banned on both Google Play Store and the Apple AppStore.
Both the companies found that Epic Games was trying to bypass the commission of 30% that they charge for applications. Google, however, said that they run an open system and are looking to bring back the application in their official store. In the case of Google’s Android platform, more app stores are available other than the play store by which Fortnite can still be downloaded and accessed. This makes it a much less restrictive platform than iOS.
Fortnite has gone forward and filed antitrust lawsuits against both the companies. This lawsuit comes at a time when tech behemoths are currently facing regular scrutiny and investigations from both US and European governments and are regularly criticized on this basis.
What is Fortnite?
Epic Games, back in 2017, developed an online battle royal game. On its release, it took the world by storm with its intriguing gameplay. The game is available in three different game modes. Fortnite: Save the world, Fortnite: Creative and Fortnite Battle Royal. With regular updates and events the game has grown it’s community over time and has been able to keep them happy and involved in the game.
The Case in Brief:
Fortnite offered a discount in the games in-app currency if the players chose to pay them directly rather than via Google or Apple’s payment systems. This was a direct rule breaking for both the companies as it would mean the gaming application was trying to bypass the commission that it has to pay to the conglomerates for purchases.
Last Thursday, Apple removed the game from iOS. Apple’s ecosystem does not allow third-party applications to be installed leaving no way for new players to get the game. The move was expected as Epic games in their recent “#FreeFortnite” advertisement mocked Apple’s own advertisement based on George Orwell’s 1984 novel.
How did George Orwell Get Involved?
Epic Games, the company that developed Fortnite, launched an advertisement that was a parody of Apple’s ad that was released in 1983. The advertisement was released by Apple during its launch of the Macintosh. The advertisement showed how there was a big brother and Apple was trying to and helping it’s users break free from that.
Epic, with its recent advertisement, replaced the big brother with an Apple. They conveyed how Apple has become the new big brother in the industry. They also criticized Apple being a hugely powerful and overbearing entity.
Epic games while filing the lawsuit claimed: “Apple has become what it once railed against: The behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear. At a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history.”
The Court Case:
Epic Games filed a case against Google in California court after the game was kicked off the play store. The complaint from the application is similar in both cases, revolving around the 30% cut the company takes from both the companies.
The filed suit says: Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought, and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolize.
Epic had recently gone in an agreement with One Plus, to make the games seamlessly available in their mobiles. The suit also criticized Google’s involvement in this. They added: But Google forced OnePlus to renege on the deal, citing Google’s ‘particular concern’ about Epic having the ability to install and update mobile games while ‘bypassing the Google Play Store’
The company was also not able to go forward with its deal with LG as they did not let Epic Games software in its devices.
What Does Epic Need?
The gaming company wants the distributors and their platforms to be more easygoing and fair to every developer. The company has said in its statement that they do not want or seek monetary compensation from the court or a more favorable deal for itself. Rather, it went for a consumer- rights-focused approach.
The reduction of the commission would benefit them a lot. The company said that they had processed direct payments if more than $ 1.6 billion, excluding the purchases from iOS and Google play store.
The game added tens of millions of dollars with downloads via both the app stores.
Google in its reply to the lawsuit has clearly highlighted that the users can still install applications in their operating system. This needs the users to just tick some boxes which allows them to download the application from other available app stores.
The company has added that its own Store has its own policies. These policies were made by keeping the rights of developers and users in their minds. They also said that these policies makes Google store much more user friendly and safe for its users.
They also said, “While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies.”
Apple put out its statement saying that Epic Games had dealt with the company for over a decade. The gaming company has also benefited during this time from all the tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers.
They added that: “Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users.”
They also wanted the game to resolve all the violations so that the application can be brought back to its platform.