Apple, Google Taken To Court Over 'Fortnite' Removal From App Stores

Epic Games Inc, the company that makes “Fortnite,” sued Apple Inc AAPL and Alphabet Inc GOOGL GOOG on Thursday, after the popular video game was removed from app stores run by the technology firms.

What Happened

The creator of games like "Unreal" and the "Infinity Blade" series filed for injunctive relief before the United States District Court in the Northern District of California, alleging anti-competitive practices by Apple and Google.

Both companies had removed Fortnite from their respective app stores after the game maker attempted to bypass the technology giants’ app marketplaces for in-game purchases, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Purchases made through the app stores earn both the companies a 30% cut, which is proving to be an anathema for Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney.

"We must all choose to fight a painful battle now, or accept an all-powerful middleman with unbounded ambition,” Sweeney said.

Taking a direct shot at Apple, the game company released a parody of the Tim Cook-led company’s iconic “1984” advertisement, aired during the Super Bowl XVIII, on social media, which had targeted International Business Machines Corp’s IBM, on allegations of monopolistic practices during that period.

Epic offered players 20% discounts on their in-game purchases for the past month at its own game store, and extended the offer to its V-bucks virtual currency as well, which can be used for in-game purchases on gaming consoles, PCs and Macs.

Both Apple and Google have reportedly said that they are willing to work with the game developer in bringing Fortnite back to their stores and that the game was removed for violation of their respective policies.

Why It Matters 

Fortnite installs have totaled 133.2 million on the App Store and brought in $1.2 billion in global spending. On Google Play, the game has been installed 11 million times and has generated $10 million in global spending, according to Sensor Tower, the Journal noted. 

Apple has been facing a series of allegations surrounding its app store policies recently. Cook defended the company’s treatment of app developers at a House anti-trust hearing last month.

Last week, Microsoft Corporation MSFT criticized Apple’s anticompetitive App Store policies, which led to the shelving of its xCloud game streaming service

The Cupertino-based iPhone maker has denied Facebook Inc’s FB gaming application entry to its App Store multiple times, saying, the app behaves like a storefront, in violation of its App Store policies. 

Price Action 

Apple shares closed nearly 1.8% higher at $460.04 on Thursday. Alphabet Class A shares closed almost 0.6% higher at $1,516.65 on the same day, while the company’s Class C shares closed nearly 0.8% higher at $1,518.45.

Posted In: NewsLegalTechMediaApp StoreEpic GamesFortniteGoogleGoogle PlayThe Wall Street JournalTim Cook