Epic Games broadens its legal battle with Apple and Google to the United Kingdom [Update: Epic Games responds]

What started as a dispute in the United States has found its way over to the United Kingdom, as Epic Games continues to duke it out with both Apple and Google.

Update (01/14/2021)Epic Games’ VP of Communications and Policy, Tera Randall, offered up this statement in regards to the news that broke today:

Epic Games has launched legal proceedings against Apple and Google in the United Kingdom, expanding its fight to advance fair digital platform practices for consumers and developers.

The legal proceedings, filed in London’s Competition Appeal Tribunal, allege the conduct of both Apple and Google in their respective app stores is an abuse of a dominant position and in breach of the UK’s competition laws, substantially reducing competition in app distribution and payment processes.

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. We look forward to making our case on January 21.

Epic is not seeking damages from Apple or Google in the UK, Australia or the US, it is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit all consumers.

The original article continues below.

According to Bloomberg, Epic Games has expanded its legal battle between Google and Apple to the United Kingdom. Specifically, the company has submitted a complaint to the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal. Epic Games’ argument here is that Apple’s and Google’s decisions to remove the mega-popular game Fortnite from their digital storefronts was unlawful.

The goal? Get Fortnite reintroduced into Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store.

If this argument sounds familiar, it’s because Epic Games has tried it already. That was in the United States, though. Unfortunately for the video game developer, that hasn’t panned out in their favor. Epic Games’ started its battle with Apple and Google in August of last year, and it has been dragging along since then.

To kick things off, Epic Games made a decision to knowingly break the App Store rules. Specifically, the company added the ability for players to purchase in-game currency directly from the company, bypassing Apple’s payment system. This led Apple to, of course, remove the app from the App Store — and then Epic released a planned lawsuit against Apple.

Epic Games did the same thing with Google when that company pulled Fortnite from its own digital storefront, too.

Expanding the lawsuit to the UK makes sense for Epic Games, as the company needs to continue to try and leverage whatever it can in its complaints against Apple. Meanwhile, in the U.S., Apple and Epic Games will go to court beginning in July.

Here’s a quick rundown of how we got here:

The timeline

August 13, 2020

  • Epic Games updates Fortnite on the server-side, bypassing the App Store review process. It adds a direct payment option, breaking another rule in the process.
  • Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store due to Epic Games breaking the App Store rules.
  • Epic Games launches a media blitz, and it also sues Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
  • Epic launches “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a parody video of Apple’s original “1984” ad:

  • Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store, as Epic Games also violated the Play Store’s rules.
  • Epic sues Google, too.
  • Spotify weighs in! Unsurprisingly, it applauds Epic Games for its decision to stand up against Apple.

August 14, 2020

  • Facebook says Apple’s App Store fees make it impossible to help small businessesimpacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

August 17, 2020

  • Apple threatens to revoke Epic Games’ developer accounts for not only iOS, but also macOS. That cut-off is set to take place on Friday, August 28, 2020.

August 18, 2020

August 20, 2020

  • The Wall Street Journal and other news publications sign an open letter asking for Apple to reduce its App Store fees down to a standard 15%.

August 21, 2020

  • Epic Games promotes the #FreeFortnite Cup, or tournament, that is meant to bring even more attention against Apple, and is promoting “anti-Apple” prizes.
  • Epic sought special treatment for Fortnite before it declared war against Apple and the App Store’s guidelines.

August 24, 2020

  • Judge Gonzalez-Rogers rules that Apple does not need to reinstate Fortnite back into the App Store as the legal battle wages on. The judge also rules that Apple cannot revoke the Unreal Engine development tools, but it can still move forward with removing Epic’s developer account for iOS and macOS.
  • Apple says it agrees with the ruling made by Judge Gonzalez-Rogers, and is prepared to welcome Fortnite back onto iOS as soon as Epic Games is ready to follow the App Store guidelines.

August 26, 2020

  • Epic confirms that the new season of Fortnite, which is Marvel-themed, will not be available on iOS or Mac. Cross-platform functionality with those platforms is also removed.

August 28, 2020

September 8, 2020

September 9, 2020

  • Epic Games says Apple is going to disable the “Sign in with Apple” feature as soon as Friday, September 11.
  • Apple changes its mind regarding “Sign in with Apple”, allows existing customers to keep using it.

September 10, 2020

September 18, 2020

September 24, 2020

  • Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, and other companies create the “Coalition for App Fairness” to take on Apple’s and Google’s digital storefront policies.

September 28, 2020

October 7, 2020

  • Judge rules that the court battle between Apple and Epic Games will resume in May 2021.

November 5, 2020

  • Fortnite returns to iOS thanks to GeForce Now game streaming service, and only available via Safari.

December 17, 2020

  • Judge orders both Tim Cook and Craig Federighi to testify in the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games.

December 21, 2020