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Apple Kicks Fortnite From App Store, Prompting Lawsuit

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Apple removed the game Fortnite from the App Store on Thursday after its developer implemented a payment option designed to avoid paying the tech giant a commission.

Epic Games announced earlier Thursday it was offering a “Mega Drop” Fortnite discount of up to 20% on in-game purchases. As part of that, it rolled out a new in-app payment option that bypassed the procedures in the Apple App Store and Google Play store. Apple and Google each take a 30% commission on purchases made in their app stores. Fortnite instead offered users the option to save money by paying it directly, in a move that appears designed to force a confrontation.

Apple responded by removing Fornite from the App Store. Epic then announced it had filed a lawsuit against Apple alleging “anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices” related to software distribution and payment processing.

“Apple imposes unreasonable and unlawful restraints to completely monopolize both markets and prevent software developers from reaching the over one billion users of its mobile devices (e.g., iPhone and iPad) unless they go through a single store controlled by Apple, the App Store, where Apple exacts an oppressive 30% tax on the sale of every app,” the lawsuit alleges.

“Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users,” said an Apple spokesperson in a statement. “As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.”

Epic Games also appeared to taunt the tech giant on Twitter by sharing an image for an event it dubbed “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite,” an apparent reference to Apple’s famous “1984” ad.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney previously complained about Apple and Google’s fees to the Verge in 2018.

“It’s time for change,” he said. “Apple, Google, and Android manufacturers make vast, vast profits from the sale of their devices and do not in any way justify the 30% cut.”

Apple’s statement said the company “will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”

Fortnite is both a massively popular game and a cultural juggernaut. In May, Epic announced it has more than 350 million registered users.

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Don’t expect an ‘explosion of cases’ from China’s antitrust push: Professor

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Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba Group, attends opening ceremony of the 3rd All-China Young Entrepreneurs Summit on September 25, 2020 in Fuzhou, Fujian Province of China.

Lyu Ming | China News Service via Getty Images

SINGAPORE — China’s latest antitrust push will not likely lead to a “sudden explosion of cases” against online platforms, according to legal expert Angela Zhang.

Her comments came after shares of Chinese tech giants like Alibaba, Tencent and Meituan were rattled earlier in November following the release of draft rules by Beijing that defined for the first time what constitutes anti-competitive behavior.

“It’s a bit early to tell what is the next step the government is going to take but … at least this is kind of signaling a trend of stricter regulatory enforcement over these tech businesses,” said Zhang, who is associate professor of law and director of the Center for Chinese Law at The University of Hong Kong.

Commenting on the potential impact of the draft anti-monopoly rules, which are currently in a public consultation stage until Nov. 30, Zhang told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” on Monday that there are two factors to keep in mind.

We shouldn’t expect … a sudden explosion of cases against these online platforms.

Angela Zhang

associate professor of law, Center for Chinese Law at The University of Hong Kong

Firstly, such investigations typically involve a “lengthy process” and Chinese agencies could take a long time to complete an investigation, Zhang said.

“The last big case that they brought against Tetra Pak took almost five years to complete,” she said referring to the Swedish packaging firm that was slapped with a fine of about $97 million by Chinese regulators over anti-monopoly practices.

Secondly, Chinese agencies are “very thinly staffed,” she added.

“We shouldn’t expect … a sudden explosion of cases against these online platforms,” Zhang said, as it would “consume a lot of time” and human resources for government agencies to bring any big cases against the tech giants.

As for competitors, the professor said they may pursue their cases in court, though so far no plaintiff has successfully launched an antitrust case against the online platforms. It also “remains to be seen” how judges will interpret the issues.

Still, she admitted that many details “remain to be finalized” and it is still not known when the new rules will actually be announced. Even when the new rules are released, they will only be “guidelines” and won’t change existing regulatory frameworks.


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Restaurant tech start-up Toast worth $8 billion in employee share sale

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Restaurant tech start-up Toast worth $8 billion in employee share sale