Epic Games CEO speaks out against Apple, Google app store 'monopoly'

He specifically cited the stores’ 30 percent fee on in-app purchases.

Joshua Hoehne on Unsplash

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Fortnite developer Epic Games, criticized Apple and Google for having an “absolute monopoly” on app stores in a Friday interview with CNBC. There aren’t many viable options for distributing mobile software outside the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store, and Sweeney chides both for taking a 30 percent fee from in-app purchases.

Epic Games launched the Epic Games Store in late 2018 for Windows and Mac computers, and only charges other publishers a 12 percent fee on in-app purchases. The Epic Games Store hasn’t made it to the App Store because of Apple’s strict guidelines against competing software stores.

“They [Apple] are preventing an entire category of businesses and applications from being engulfed in their ecosystem by virtue of excluding competitors from each aspect of their business that they’re protecting,” Sweeney said.

Epic previously made Fortnite available to Android devices not by offering it on the Google Play Store, but instead through a launcher on the Fortnite website that downloaded the game. This allowed Epic to sidestep the 30 percent fee from Google. But the download process was too involved for many users, so Fortnite eventually launched on Google Play earlier this year. Sweeney said the company still plans to bring the Epic Games Store to Android. “Google essentially intentionally stifles competing stores by having user interface barriers and obstruction,” Sweeney said.

Epic isn’t the first company to speak out against Apple and Google’s 30 percent fee. In March of last year, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek filed an unfair competition complaint against Apple with the European Commission, citing the fee as forcing them to artificially inflate the price of its Spotify Premium membership. Last July, Tinder introduced a default payment process into its Android app meant to bypass the Google Play Store fee.

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