New world. Apple-Fortnite lawsuit: the economic model of the App Store called into question

The Apple and Epic Games logos. Illustrative photo. (ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS / AFP)

It’s an epic trial that starts this Monday, May 3 in California. The word game is easy but appropriate because the hearing, which is to last three weeks, could well shake up the economy of mobile applications on smartphones.

The business started in 2020. In July, Epic Games implemented a system allowing players to purchase credits in the Fortnite game by bypassing the iPhone’s payment system. A real crime of lese majest√© for Apple, which has always forced to go through its micropayment system, taking in the process a percentage between 15 and 30%. In August of the same year, the apple brand therefore kicked Fortnite out of the App Store with losses and noise. But, apparently, that’s exactly what Epic Games was waiting for to bring the matter to the public and take the case to court. A major communication campaign was also ready and started immediately.

Justice will have to say, first, if Apple is in a dominant position, as Epic Games asserts. It will then have to say whether the 30% commissions levied by the Apple brand on all transactions on its platform are justified. You should know that this is a hot topic. Many developers around the world find Apple’s conditions too restrictive, but they don’t dare say much because the iPhone is a great showcase and a huge market. Apple, for its part, highlights the advantages offered to developers and users, including a space of trust with a controlled App Store avoiding – in principle – the spread of indelicate applications.

It’s not just Apple in Epic Games’ sights. Android, ie Google, is also targeted. It is therefore the dime model levied by the large platforms that is called into question and which could be shaken. The publisher of Fortnite has big ambitions, he would like to develop a large ecosystem on the basis of his game, and therefore wishes to have free rein.

Note that this lawsuit comes when Apple is also attacked by the European Commission, concerning the Spotify application this time, for the same reason for abuse of a dominant position.

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