Apple Faces More EU Scrutiny As Feud With Epic Games Takes A New Turn

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The European Union’s DMA, which officially goes into effect today, requires Apple to permit third party app stores, such as Epic Games Store, on its platform. Epic had planned to bring the Epic Games Store and Fortnite to iOS devices in Europe under the DMA rules. However, in what Epic calls “a serious violation of the DMA,” Apple decided instead to terminate Epic's developer account altogether, arguing Epic is “verifiably untrustworthy.” Now, the European Commission wants the Cupertino-based company to explain its actions.

Apple and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, have been in a heated battle for a while now. Sweeney has used social media to make his arguments against Apple’s business practices, and believes those comments on social media and Epic’s antitrust lobbying are the cause for Apple deciding to terminate Epic from the iOS platform.

“The manner in which Apple is going about killing Epic here as a competitor to the App Store is super egregious,” remarked Sweeney. “This is the medieval feudal lord, mounting the skulls of their former enemies on their castle wall.”

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An Apple spokesperson rebuffed Sweeney’s claims, remarking, “Epic’s egregious breach of its contractual obligations to Apple led courts to determine that Apple has the right to terminate ‘any or all of Epic Games’ wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliates, and/or other entities under Epic Games’ control at any time and at Apple’s sole discretion.’ In light of Epic’s past and ongoing behavior, Apple chose to exercise that right.”

Apple’s decision to terminate the Epic Games Store from its iOS platform could come at a heavy price. Failure to comply with the DMA could see Apple being fined up to 10% of global annual turnover, or 20% for repeat offenders.

The European Union recently slapped Apple with a $1.9B antitrust fine concerning its music streaming practices. The fact Apple is citing a 2021 US court ruling as its right to remove Epic Games Store may not hold water in the EU. The US court ruled Apple did not have to allow third party app stores or sideloading, however, under the DMA, where the decision matters, Apple is required to permit third party app stores and third party software downloads.

In a separate statement, Apple responded that the termination of Epic’s account is not limited to the EU. It referenced its Developer Program License Agreements as being global agreements. Apple argued that the court injunction issued by US courts globally applies. It is now up to the European Commission to decide if it will accept Apple’s global stance, or if it will stand behind its own regulations.

**Update 1:10pm EST 3/8/2024: Apple has released a statement reversing its decision to ban Epic Games and Fortnite from iOS. The statement remarked, “Following conversations with Epic, they have committed to follow the rules, including our DMA policies. As a result, Epic Sweden AB has been permitted to re-sign the developer agreement and accepted into the Apple Developer Program.”