Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Apple reverses course, approves Epic Games for app store in Europe

Apple has accepted Epic Games’ developer account in Sweden, allowing them to offer a competitive app store for iPhones in Europe under the Digital Markets Act, a new antitrust rule.  

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney stated earlier this week that Apple blocked the Sweden account in retaliation for lawsuits and social media criticism, citing an email from Apple App Store executive Phil Schiller to Sweeney.  

The episode was one of the first challenges to the European Digital Market Authority from one of the digital behemoths it regulates, raising concerns about whether the regulation’s fines and penalties would be sufficient to curtail some of the behaviors targeted by the law. Apple’s swift reversal indicates that European regulators will be able to implement the law.  

“This sends a strong signal to developers that the European Commission will act swiftly to enforce the Digital Markets Act and hold gatekeepers accountable,” the company said in a statement. 

Apple’s App Store accounts for 30% of game purchases and 15% of most online subscriptions. Before Europe’s DMA, it was the primary method for installing apps on an iPhone. The new legislation requires Apple to enable third-party app stores on iPhones in Europe, but Apple claims it can charge half a euro each download, a pricing approach that has sparked criticism from app developers.  

Following Epic’s revelation, European regulators immediately stated that they will ask Apple for information regarding the issue. Sweeney announced on social media on Friday that Apple has granted Epic Games permission to establish the store following a European Commission examination. 

Sweeney remarked earlier this week that Apple’s continued blocking of the company’s developer account in Europe was ridiculous. Schiller, Apple’s App Store CEO, wrote to Sweeney, asking if he would continue to comply with Apple’s contracts in light of the 2020 litigation, and Sweeney agreed. However, according to emails obtained by Epic Games, a lawyer for Apple disputed Sweeney’s assertion and blocked Epic’s European account.  

An Apple spokeswoman stated that Epic Games’ account has been restored after Epic informed Apple that it would obey its platform regulations. 

“After speaking with Epic, they agreed to respect the rules, including our DMA policies. As a result, Epic Sweden AB has been granted permission to re-sign the developer agreement and has been welcomed into the Apple Developer Program, according to a spokeswoman. 

Epic Games announced that it would utilize the account to publish Fortnite for iPhones in Europe, as well as its own Epic Games shop. 

The battle between Epic Games and Apple began in 2020, when Epic Games changed the shooting game Fortnite to avoid Apple’s 30% cut of App Store sales. Apple removed Fortnite from its stores, and Epic sued in the United States to demand Apple to open up its platform. 

Epic essentially lost the lawsuit, although it did win some concessions under California law.  

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