Apple’s Monopoly on Apps?

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Philip Prager, staff writer

Many people are currently wondering why they are unable to download the popular app, Fortnite. This is solely due to a massive ongoing legal battle. Epic Games, the game studio/company that created Fortnite has started a legal battle against both Apple and Google. It started since both Apple and Google take a 30 percent cut out of every single transaction from mobile games except for subscriptions, which drop to ten percent after a user has subscribed for a year. Google only does this for games while Apple does this for all applications in its store. Epic Games does not approve of this, because these companies end up taking a lot of the profit made through Fortnite.

Epic Games has recently decided to take action because of this 30 percent cut. The first change Epic Games made was adding their own payment system into Fortnite. This forced Fortnite to be removed from both the Play Store and the App Store because it violated the guidelines and bypassed the 30 percent cut. Some think that Epic Games may have done this deliberately to get more publicity on the issue. Epic Games then filed a lawsuit against both Apple and Google using antitrust laws. Antitrust laws are a set of laws designed to stop monopolies.

Epic Games then went further to make a #freefortnite campaign and even created an anti-Apple advertisement based on Apple’s own old anti-IBM advertisement. The original advertisement from Apple was made after the movie 1984 and was targeted against IBM. The one Epic Games made was very similar but was made using animated Fortnite characters and was targeted against Apple themselves. Epic Games did this in order to rally up their users against Apple and Google. According to Wired, this is not the first time Epic Games has combated 30 percent cuts. In 2018, Epic Games created the Epic Games Store to combat the popular game distribution site Steam’s 30 percent cut.

However, Apple is not going down without a fight. According to Polygon, Apple threatened to remove Epic Games’ access to Apple development tools which would greatly impact Epic Games’ popular game engine: Unreal. However, a district judge ruled that while Apple may continue to keep Fortnite off the App Store, it can not take away Epic Games’ development tools. Meanwhile, according to CNN, Apple has also countersued Epic Games for subterfuge, commission theft and self-help.

This legal battle is ultimately good news for several mobile app developers. While an incredibly wealthy company like Epic Games might not have such a big problem with paying 30 percent in their transactions, many smaller companies cannot afford to do so. Since the App Store is the only way to reach millions of users, it is important that app developers can put their apps on it. Now, what does this legal battle mean for users? Currently, this means that for now, you can not download or update Fortnite on your Android or IOS device. If you have it installed, you can continue playing. For the time being, it is probably best to play another game or to play on a console or computer.