Epic Games Takes Antitrust Battle with Apple to the EU

Epic Games #FreeFortnite
(Image credit: Epic Games)

Today, Epic Games announced the expansion of its #FreeFortnite initiative, which alleges that App Store policies are anti-competitive, with an antitrust complaint against Apple to the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Competition.

#FreeFortnite started in August 2020 when Epic Games offered Fortnite players a 20% discount for purchasing V-Bucks, the in-game currency used to buy cosmetic items, directly through its website instead of via the App Store or Google Play.

That discount made sense for Epic Games because Apple and Google both take a 30% cut of transactions made via their marketplaces. Both also prohibit efforts to bypass those cuts, however, and Fortnite was promptly removed from their stores.

Epic Games responded with a U.S. lawsuit against both companies that, according to a CNN interview with chief executive Tim Sweeney, was months in the making. Similar complaints have been made in Australia, the UK, and now the EU.

The company said in today's announcement 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.”

Epic Games said it's not seeking damages in any of the cases it's brought against Apple; instead, it's "simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit consumers and developers." It just wants more of those sweet, sweet V-Bucks sales.

CNBC reported that the European Commission said it "has received the complaint and will assess it based on its standard procedures." Don't expect any of these proceedings — in the U.S., UK, Australia, or EU — to be resolved any time soon.

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.

  • mavikt
    No comments on this?
    Is Apple or Google (or Steam) sucking too much juice out of their content providers? An interesting topic! I think so...
  • hotaru.hino
    I can't really root for Epic on this, even if Apple's ecosystem does have a problem.
  • cryoburner
    mavikt said:
    Is Apple or Google (or Steam) sucking too much juice out of their content providers?
    Unlike Apple and Google, Valve isn't blocking other digital distribution platforms on PCs, nor do they control the operating system, so that's not really comparable. Microsoft isn't either, for that matter.

    What Epic really wants here, is not to just cut Apple and Google out of the large cut they take for selling virtual goods in their games, but to get their own competing app store on those platforms. They ultimately want an Epic Game Store for mobile devices where Apple or Google isn't taking a 30% cut of all sales on the platform. On PC, they can do that, but on mobile devices, Apple and Google tend to have things locked down to prevent that, or at least make it more difficult.