United Kingdom

Fortnite developer Epic Games brings legal action against Apple and Google to the UK

The developers of the popular game Fortnite have launched legal action against Apple and Google in the UK.

Epic Games, the studio behind the hit game, has accused the tech giants of breaking competition rules after they both removed Fortnite from their app stores. 

The issue that triggered the removals is to do with payment options within the game, which Apple and Google say broke their terms and conditions.  

This isn't the first time that Fortnite has sought legal action against Apple and Google - last year it sued the companies in a US court, seeking injunctions that would end many of the firms' practices related to their app stores.  

The developers of the popular game Fortnite have begun legal action against Apple and Google in the UK

WHAT'S THE ISSUE? 

Epic Games claims that Apple and Google abuse their power by:

- unfairly restricting competition from alternative app stores

- stopping developers using their own payment-processing services for purchases

- charging 'unfair prices for the distribution of apps'

Epic Games wants the court to order Apple and Google to:

- reinstate Epic Games' software and accounts

- let developers use their own payment-processing systems in their apps

- let consumers download Epic Games' software outside of the App Store or Google Play

Fortnite is one of the world's most popular games but was removed from Apple's App Store and the Google Play Store last year. 

The tech giants made the decision to remove the game after Epic Games added a new payment option, allowing users to buy in-game items directly from them rather than using Apple and Google's own payment systems – something the two firms said breached their rules.

Epic Games has argued that this system is unfair and anti-competitive – Google and Apple take a commission of up to 30 per cent on transactions made through their systems.

In a statement, Epic Games said: 'We believe that this is an important argument to make on behalf of consumers and developers in the UK and around the world who are impacted by Apple and Google's misuse of market power.' 

A number of other firms, including music streaming platform Spotify, have also been vocal on the issue of fair competition and announced their support for Epic's actions.

In its claim to the Competition Appeal Tribunal, Epic accuses Apple and Google of abusing their 'dominant position' in the market and unfairly restricting competition.

Epic has asked the tribunal to declare the removal of Fortnite from both app stores unlawful and for an order that would see Fortnite restored to both stores and would allow Epic to offer its direct payment option to users. 

The tech giants made the decision to remove the game after Epic Games added a new payment option, allowing users to buy in-game items directly from them rather than using Apple and Google's own payment systems – something the two firms said breached their rules

Late last year, Apple announced a change to its commission scheme, confirming it would halve the charge to 15 per cent for any developer which earns less than one million dollars per year in sales generated through the store.

In response to the news, Apple said its priority is to create a 'safe and trusted place to download software'. 

'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', an Apple spokesperson said in a statement.

'Their reckless behaviour made pawns of customers, and we look forward to making this clear to courts in the UK.'

Meanwhile, Google maintains that its policies are 'fair to developers.'

Google said: 'The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users.' 

WHAT IS FORTNITE? THE FREE TO PLAY GAME LAUNCHED IN 2017 AND HAS TAKEN THE WORLD BY STORM

Fortnite is a game that originally launched as a disk back in July 2017 and was then turned into a free-to-download game by its developer, Epic Games, in September. 

There are three forms of the game: 'Battle Royale', 'Save The World' and 'Playground'.

Save the world is the original form of the game and is currently not available to play as part of the free-to-download game, instead it comes as part of a £30 ($40) extra. 

It is a co-op mode with a story that's playable solo or online with friends.

Fortnite is a battle royale-style survival shooter where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island 

Users compete in teams of up to three to complete a variety of missions. 

It is rumoured that the game will be added to the free-to-play version of the game in the future. 

Whilst Save The World may be the original version of the game, its sister mode is by far the most popular. 

Battle Royale is a game of survival where players create a superhero avatar and compete against each other on a dystopian island.

Each game, or 'match' as each competition is known, starts with 100 players.

The aim of the game is to be the last one standing. Users can form allegiances and play in small groups.

To enable this and the interactive experience, the game allows completely open communication between players. 

Inspired by the Hunger Games novels and films, gamers search for weapons to help them survive. 

Armed with quirky weapons and amusing dances, the game has swept across the gaming world, with children flocking to it.  

While there is no exact figure on how many children play Fortnite, the game has so far pulled in an audience of over 125 million players. 

Playground is the latest addition to the game and is a consequence free mode with more loot and unlimited respawning to allow players to get creative.

It involved groups of up to four people working as a team and the players can hone their skills as the practise in advance of entering Battle Royale where they will face better players. 

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