By Carlito P. Topacio

Video game developer Epic Games has taken legal action against Apple and Google for pulling out their first-person shooter game Fortnite from the App Store and Google Play with music-streaming service Spotify supporting the game developer.

The video game company filed lawsuits against the tech giants on Friday, accusing both of imposing “anti-competitive restrictions on the mobile device marketplaces” with Fortnite being their latest victim.

“Today, Apple said Epic is seeking a special deal, but that’s not true. We’re fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers. And it’ll be a hell of a fight,” Tim Sweeney, founder of Epic Games, said on a Twitter post. 

Apple and Google both pulled the game from their mobile app stores because of the first-person shooter’s latest update where a direct payment feature for skins and weapons was introduced. 

The tech giants claim that this was a direct violation of their app stores’ rules and regulations, with both companies requiring a 30-percent cut of the revenue of the applications being sold on their stores.

“The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users,” Apple said in a statement.

Apple was the first to pull off the game from the app store, which caused Epic Games to launch a #FreeFortnite campaign urging players to use the hashtag and send complaints to the tech giant regarding the matter.

Epic Games claimed that Apple’s 30-percent cut of their revenues had led them to mark up the prices on skins and weapons by 20 percent, adding that their direct payment update would curtail that and provide users with a more convenient means of paying.

Spotify has released a statement supporting the company in its fight against the tech giant. The developers of the music streaming app have also filed an antitrust complaint against Apple back in 2019 for their 30-percent cut on all of the app’s subscriptions.

“The stakes for consumers and app developers large and small couldn’t be higher and ensuring that the iOS platform operates competitively and fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching complications,” they said. 

The video game company’s statement came with a parody of Apple’s Macintosh Computer commercial that referenced George Orwell’s book 1984.

“Epic Games has defied the App Store monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming ‘1984’,” they said in the video.

Epic Games called them out for presenting themselves as a company that would end International Business Machines Corporation’s (IBM) monopoly over the industry, only for them to later hold a monopoly over the mobile application market.

“Fast forward to 2020, and Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear,” Epic Games said in a statement.

Hours after, Google Play would pull out Fortnite. While the video game company has announced that they would be filing a lawsuit against Google, they have yet to release a formal statement.

In a statement, Google said: “For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies.”