Epic files complaint against Apple with UK's competition watchdog

The Apple, Google and Fortnite apps displayed on an iPhone
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Epic Games has officially filed a complaint with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) to support the watchdog’s investigation into Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour.

Epic’s complaint alleges that Apple’s anti-competitive behaviour and rules governing the distribution of apps and payment processing constitute “a clear violation of the UK Competition Act of 1998.”

Epic claims this illustrates Apple’s monopolistic practices “which forbid users and developers respectively from acquiring or distributing apps through marketplaces other than Apple’s App Store, while simultaneously forcing any in-app purchase to be processed through Apple’s own payment system.”

The CMA is currently investigating whether Apple imposes unfair or anti-competitive terms on its app developers and will scrutinise its 30% “app tax”.

“By kneecapping the competition and exerting its monopoly power over app distribution and payments, Apple strips UK consumers of the right to choose how and where they get their apps, while locking developers into a single marketplace that lets Apple charge any commission rate they choose,” said Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney.

“These harmful practices lead to artificially inflated costs for consumers, and stifle innovation among developers, many of whom are unable to compete in a digital ecosystem that is rigged against them.”

An Apple spokesperson told IT Pro: "It is not surprising that Epic is pushing their agenda before the UK Competition and Markets Authority, as we have seen them use the same playbook around the world.

“Now that they have achieved massive success through the App Store, becoming a multi-billion pound corporation, Epic wants to operate under a different set of rules than the ones that apply to all other developers. The result would be weakened privacy and data security protections for our customers, and we think that’s wrong."

The games company has also commenced legal proceedings against Apple in other jurisdictions including the US and Australia. It has filed an antitrust complaint in the EU too in support of its ongoing investigation into the tech giant’s App Store conduct.

Epic claims it isn’t seeking monetary damages but is instead pursuing “regulatory remedies that will prevent Apple’s intentional distortion and manipulation of the market and ensure fair access and competition for consumers and developers in the UK and around the world.”

In February, the UK Competition Appeal Tribunal dismissed Epic Games’ lawsuit against Apple but determined that it could pursue its case against Google in the UK.

Epic announced it was suing Apple and Google in December as the two tech companies had removed Fortnite from their app stores. The game had been removed as Epic said it would offer a 20% discount to players who purchase in-game currency directly from Fortnite instead of through Apple and Google’s apps, which take a 30% cut of all payments made in games and downloads through their stores.

Zach Marzouk

Zach Marzouk is a former ITPro, CloudPro, and ChannelPro staff writer, covering topics like security, privacy, worker rights, and startups, primarily in the Asia Pacific and the US regions. Zach joined ITPro in 2017 where he was introduced to the world of B2B technology as a junior staff writer, before he returned to Argentina in 2018, working in communications and as a copywriter. In 2021, he made his way back to ITPro as a staff writer during the pandemic, before joining the world of freelance in 2022.