Epic Games, Apple and Google’s Court Battle Hits Aussie Shores

Epic Games, Apple and Google’s Court Battle Hits Aussie Shores

The fight between Epic Games, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store has hit Australian shores, with the civil court case kicking off in the Federal Court in Melbourne this week.

The Fortnite creator has been battling the tech giants since 2020, and the saga will continue for at least the next five months. 

This entire battle royale (sorry) began when Apple kicked Epic Games off its App Store after it introduced a different way to pay in the Fortnite app which bypassed paying via the App Store. This pissed Apple off, they removed them from the App Store citing that Epic Games violated its App Store guidelines. 

Days later, Google did the same thing. So now, four years and a few delays later, we are back witnessing the Aussie version of Epic Games v Apple and Google. 

Here is everything you need to know about Epic Games v Apple and Google. 

What is the Epic Games v Apple and Google court case about?

Epic is claiming that Apple engaged in anti-competitive and unconscionable conduct under Australian laws by forcing Epic to only use Apple’s App Store to distribute its video games to iOS users and Apple’s payment processing system for in-app purchases. 

When a user buys something in App Store or Google Play, the company – so either Apple or Google – takes a 30 per cent cut. Epic Games and other smaller app developers want a fairer system.

In 2021, Epic Games launched separate trials against Apple and Google over the same issues in the U.S. However, once the trials started in the US, the federal court cases were put on hold in April of that year. 

In 2024, Justice Jonathan Beach decided to combine the two cases to avoid doubling up of witness evidence. 

There are a slate of witnesses expected at this year’s trial including Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, Apple Fellow Phil Schiller and SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi. 

What happened in the U.S. between Epic Games, Apple and Google?

This isn’t a new court case by any means, in fact, it started way back in 2020. Epic Games took Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store to court over its anti competitive behaviour. 

Epic lost its case in the U.S. against Apple in 2021 but won against Google. Epic also lost its U.S. Supreme Court appeal against Apple last August

What does Epic Games say about the Australian trial?

Gizmodo Australia has reached out for comments from Epic Games on the current federal court case and it declined to comment while the trial is running. 

Three years ago, when the court case initially began in Australia, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney told the Sydney Morning Herald that a “change was sorely needed”. 

“Apple has said they have the legal right to do whatever the hell they want because they make the devices. Under Apple’s legal theory they could charge 90 per cent. The very notion that they’re standing on is antithetical to free markets and competition,” he told the SMH. 

“Apple is essentially using its control of the hardware to force all commerce to go through them, against the will of developers and also against the will of consumers. What’s happening in the tech industry is really destructive. It needs to change rather fast.”

What does Apple say about the Australian trial?

Commenting on the current Australian federal court case, Apple said, “Epic is seeking a redo of the case it overwhelmingly lost in the U.S., when a federal trial court found — and an appellate court affirmed — that Apple’s App Store business model does not violate antitrust laws. 

“Under the guise of competition law, Epic is now asking an Australian Court to grant it a free and unfettered license to use Apple’s intellectual property to enhance its own bottom line at the expense of the user experience and other developers. The evidence we present in Court will once again substantiate that the App Store business model provides a safe and trusted place for users and a pro competitive business opportunity for all developers.” 

What does Google say about the Australian trial?

In a blog last week, Google VP government affairs and public policy, Wilson White said Android enables anybody, even competitors, to build amazing devices without any requirement to pre-load or download their apps, or use their services. 

“This has helped create more choices, reduce device prices, and democratise access to smartphones,” he said. 

White made a few points relevant to the trial:

  • Australian developers have many ways to distribute their apps.
  • Android has a multi-layered approach to security but this lawsuit puts user safety at risk.
  • Google Play’s fees are the lowest of any major app store.
  • Google Play provides a wide range of tools and features, not just payment processing.
  • Australian consumers have choices in how to pay for digital purchases.

“It’s clear that Android and Google Play provide more choice and openness than any other major mobile platform and it’s a model that’s good for Australian developers and consumers,” Wilson said. 

“We will continue to vigorously defend our right to a sustainable business model that enables us to keep users safe, partner with developers to grow their businesses, and keep the Android ecosystem thriving and healthy for all Australians,” he added. 

How long will the Epic Games v Apple, Google trial go for?

The case is expected to last five months, Gizmodo Australia will continue to update this article as the story unfolds. 

Image: Epic Games

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