Fortnite returns to Europe: Apple caves to EU pressure, allowing Epic Games App Store

Reversal marks enforcement of new Digital Markets Act, challenging Apple's App Store monopoly

Fortnite's return to iPhones in the EU signifies a new era of app store competition. AFP
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Apple Inc has decided to reinstate Epic Games Inc's developer account, allowing the Fortnite maker to proceed with its plan to establish its own app marketplace within the EU.

The reversal comes in the wake of pressure from EU regulators and marks a pivotal moment in the enforcement of the bloc's newly implemented Digital Markets Act (DMA).

Under the DMA, which took effect this week, major tech platforms such as Apple are required to allow alternative app marketplaces, effectively ending their exclusive control over app distribution.

Epic Games, in a statement, highlighted Apple's commitment to comply with the DMA.

“Apple has told us and committed to the European Commission that they will reinstate our developer account,” the company said.

The game developer viewed this as a clear indication of the European Commission's readiness to ensure compliance with the DMA and to hold dominant players accountable.

This development follows closely on the heels of Brussels regulators' scrutiny of Apple's initial decision to ban Epic, hinting at the possibility of further fines against the tech giant.

Apple's initial ban of Epic Games Sweden's new account was a response to criticism from the video game maker's chief executive, Tim Sweeney, over Apple's DMA compliance efforts, which he labelled as inadequate.

Epic Games' ambition to launch its own app store in the EU is seen as a direct challenge to Apple's App Store, which until now, has been the sole gateway for apps on iOS devices.

This monopoly allowed Apple to levy a commission of 15 to 30 per cent on in-app purchases, a policy that has been a point of contention between app developers and Apple.

The conflict between Apple and Epic Games dates back to 2020, when Epic attempted to bypass Apple's payment system for in-app purchases, leading to a legal battle.

While Apple largely prevailed in court, it was ordered to allow developers more freedom to direct customers to external payment methods.

Apple's latest decision to reinstate Epic's developer account follows a brief period of escalated tensions, during which Apple had criticised the video game maker for its public denouncement of Apple's DMA compliance plans and had questioned Epic's willingness to abide by the rules.

Apple, in a statement acknowledging the reinstatement, emphasised that Epic had committed to adhering to the DMA regulations and other policies, leading to their acceptance back into the developer programme.

Updated: March 08, 2024, 7:09 PM