Epic trying to talk Spotify, Sonos into creating anti-App Store coalition

Epic Games tries to talk Spotify, Sonos into creating anti-App Store coalition

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The Epic Games office in Berlin.— Fortnite App Store
Epic Games has sued Apple for allegedly monopolizing iOS app distribution.
Photo: Sergey Galyonkin/Flickr CC

Epic Games, maker of Fortnite, is recruiting a team of like-minded companies to join its fight against Apple and its App Store policies, according to a report from The Information (paywall).

The publication claims that Epic is getting in touch with other companies that disagree with the App Store’s strict rules. Two of these companies are reportedly Sonos and Spotify. However, neither of them has officially joined the coalition.

The goal of this Epic coalition is not wholly clear. It could provide a way for the companies involved to coordinate anti-Apple messaging. The alleged App Store monopoly is a topic already on the radar of antitrust investigators.

But not every Apple-skeptical company is willing to put itself on the line. The report notes that:

“Several big tech companies also have concerns about Apple’s App Store policies, but may be reluctant to join any formal group because they are facing their own antitrust probes. Still, Epic’s campaign has already spurred some of them to step up their criticism of Apple’s practices.”

The Epic coalition

Apple banned Fortnite from the App Store Thursday after Epic introduced a direct-payment system for in-app purchases. This violated the App Store guidelines. Epic immediately responded with a civil lawsuit accusing the App Store of being a monopoly (and a video parodying Apple’s iconic 1984 Macintosh ad).

Epic then said Apple threatened to revoke the game developer’s access to Mac and iOS developer tools. Booting Epic from the Apple Developer Program would affect far more than Fortnite. It also would impact Unreal Engine, which Epic licenses to other game developers.

Epic on Monday filed a request for a preliminary injunction that would stop Apple from booting Fortnite from the App Store, removing or disabling versions of the game already running on users’ devices, and “taking any adverse action against Epic, including but not limited to restricting, suspending, or terminating any Epic entity from Apple’s Developer Program.”

“Left unchecked, Apple’s actions will irreparably damage Epic’s reputation among Fortnite users and be
catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business,” the document filed by Epic says (.pdf). “If the Unreal Engine can no longer support Apple platforms, the software developers that use it will be forced to use alternatives. The damage to Epic’s ongoing business and to its reputation and trust with its
customers will be unquantifiable and irreparable. Preliminary injunctive relief is necessary to prevent Apple from crushing Epic before this case could ever get to judgment.”

Apple vs. Epic Games

Apple issued a statement Monday regarding the situation. It reads (courtesy of Daring Fireball):

“The App Store is designed to be a safe and trusted place for users and a great business opportunity for all developers. Epic has been one of the most successful developers on the App Store, growing into a multibillion dollar business that reaches millions of iOS customers around the world. We very much want to keep the company as part of the Apple Developer Program and their apps on the Store. The problem Epic has created for itself is one that can easily be remedied if they submit an update of their app that reverts it to comply with the guidelines they agreed to and which apply to all developers. We won’t make an exception for Epic because we don’t think it’s right to put their business interests ahead of the guidelines that protect our customers.”