Ahead of its May 2021 trial in the United States, Epic Games has launched legal proceedings against Apple’s Australian business. The motivation is the same as what prompted Epic’s action in the US: that Apple’s iOS App Store is anti-competitive.
Specifically, it prevents app developers from using “competing payment processing systems,” which could theoretically be used to curtail Apple’s 30 percent commission on each iOS in-app transaction. When Epic Games famously tried to circumvent Apple’s own payment processing systems in Fortnite, Apple responded by removing the app entirely.
Epic’s filing in the Federal Court of Australia claims that Apple is breaching Australian Consumer Law, “as well as various sections of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010”. In an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney explained why the company has chosen Australia as a new battleground for its spat with Apple.
“It’s another set of laws under which Apple’s practices are clearly in violation. And another chance to get this issue really thoroughly examined,” he said. “And also there’s a really big and growing mobile software industry in Australia, a lot of great game developers, and they all suffer dearly by Apple and Google’s 30 per cent tax. I doubt there’s a single developer in Australia who makes more profit from their own games then Apple and Google make from their games.”
It couldn’t hurt that Australia’s Competition and Consumer Commission launched its own examination of both the iOS App Store and Google Play in September. The study is wide ranging, but includes “the extent of competition between Google and Apple’s app stores, and whether more pricing transparency is needed in Australia’s mobile apps market.”
I’ve reached out to Apple Australia for comment, and will update if I hear back.