Epic Games CEO attacks Apple and Google over 'mobile duopoly'

Epic Games CEO again blasts Apple and Google over ‘mobile duopoly’ and calls for universal app store that works across all platforms

  • Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney slammed Google and Apple during a speech at a South Korea conference discussing mobile app platform policies Monday
  • During a speech, the 50-year-old CEO declared that both companies were callously capitalizing on their monopoly over the mobile app market sphere
  • ‘Apple must be stopped,’ Sweeney told attendees in Seoul during the speech
  • The CEO also condemned search giant Google during his time on the podium, criticizing the company as ‘crazy’ for how it handles app purchases
  • The comments come as Sweeney’s company has been embroiled in legal battles with both companies for the past two years

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney used a speech at a South Korea conference discussing mobile app platform policies as an opportunity to lambast longtime legal adversaries Apple and Google, slamming the tech giants once again for their stranglehold on the mobile app market.

‘Apple must be stopped,’ Sweeney, 50, said to a packed room at the ongoing Global Conference for Mobile Application Ecosystem Fairness in Seoul on Monday.

The founder of the video game company responsible for the wildly popular online multiplayer sensation Fortnite also condemned search giant Google during his time on the podium, criticizing the company as ‘crazy’ for how it handles app purchases. 

Sweeney, an outspoken and longtime critic of both Apple’s and Google’s app store policies, then offered his own vision to attendees of the conference – a universal app store where users could ‘buy software in one place, knowing that they’d have it on all devices and all platforms.’

‘What the world really needs now is a single store that works with all platforms,’ the CEO further stated after the speech in an interview with press Tuesday at the Seoul conference. 

Sweeny’s company has long been battling both Apple and Google – companies that the CEO says have a joint monopoly over the mobile app market – over logistics concerning payments for various in-app purchases. 

Epic Games founder Tim Sweeney, 50, slammed Google and Apple during a speech at a South Korea conference discussing mobile app platform policies Monday, declaring that both companies were callously capitalizing on their monopoly over the mobile app market sphere

The Global Conference for Mobile Application Ecosystem Fairness held in Seoul, South Korea, offers a platform for those involved in the mobile app market to discuss platform policies. Sweeney (pictured second from right) used a Monday speech to lambast legal adversaries Apple and Google, slamming the tech giants for their stranglehold on the mobile app market

In 2018, Epic launched its own digital storefront where the company would offer consumers access its video game library, in the hope of circumventing the 30 percent cut Apple takes off apps purchased in its store. 

However, by doing so, the video game software developer breached the terms and service offered by Apple’s App Store, leading the Cupertino company to suspend Epic’s account from its systems – meaning Epic’s library of games, including Fortnite, was no longer available to purchasers on iOS in 2020.

What’s more, Google also removed Epic’s titles from its popular Google Play platform, with the company then stating that Epic’s brazen move also violated their rules, as well.

At the time, Google also garnered a 30 percent cut from any purchases on their platform, but has since reduced that rate by half, now taking just 15 percent from such purchases. Apple has also since cut its app-store percentages by the same rate. 

Days later, Epic filed lawsuits in 2020 against both Apple and Google, arguing in the Apple suit that app distribution and in-app payments for Apple devices create their own market for anti-competition purposes because users rarely leave the so-called ‘sticky’ ecosystem. 

Epic exhibited a similar standpoint in its lawsuit against Google, stating that the search company’s payment restrictions on the Play Store constitute a monopoly, and are therefore in violation of both the Sherman Act – an antitrust law put in place in the U.S. more than one hundred years ago, stating that any ‘monopolization, attempted monopolization, or conspiracy or combination to monopolize’ by a company – or companies – is indeed illegal. 

Sweeny’s company has long been battling both Apple and Google – companies that the CEO says have a joint monopoly over the mobile app market – over logistics concerning payments for various in-app purchases

The popular online multiplayer sensation Fortnite is a product of Epic Games. Both Google and Apple removed download options for the video game from their respective app stores after Epic filed suit against them in 2020

Epic managed to eek a partial victory against Apple in court earlier this year. A federal judge ruled that the company must allow developers to link to third-party payment platforms. 

But the ruling also discerned that the App Store is not a monopoly, clearing the company of any wrongdoing – with Epic appealing this aspect. Apple has since refused to let Epic back into its App Store fold until that appeal is heard. 

The court also ruled that Epic, which updated its app to bypass Apple’s App Store policies and facilitated payments through its own system, owed financial relief to the tech giant, to the tune of $6 million, for violating the company’s terms.

Moreover, amid this appeal process – which is currently still ongoing – Google filed an answer and counterclaim in Epic’s antitrust suit against them, denying Sweeney’s company’s allegations that Google, like Apple, was capitalizing on its alleged monopoly over the mobile app sphere.

In the counterclaim filed last month, Google argued that it, too, is owed relief, since Epic breached its Google Play Developer Distribution Agreement (DDA) when it allowed Fortnite players who download the game through Google Play to use Epic’s own payment processing technology. 

Sweeney, an outspoken and longtime critic of both Apple’s and Google’s app store policies, then offered his own vision to attendees of the conference – a universal app store where users could ‘buy software in one place, knowing that they’d have it on all devices and all platforms’

Separately, after a slew of complaints from several app and game developers last year, South Korea passed a law that also had the same effect of requiring Apple – and Google – to allow the use of third-party payment platforms. 

The law, which seeks to limit companies monopolistic practices, is the first of its nature to be passed on the federal level. Both Apple and Google have since failed to meet a deadline to reveal plans to comply.

Sweeney praised Korean politicians for the move Monday at the conference, saying, ‘I’m very proud to stand up against these monopolies with you. 

‘I’m proud to stand with you and say I’m a Korean,’ the video game developer then declared, speaking figuratively.

Entrenched in a bitter two-front legal battle with the dominant mobile duopoly, both of whose worth is well intro the trillions, Sweeney’s company has seemed to have reached a relative impasse in its proceedings, with Fortnite still not back on either of the company’s stores, and Epic hemorrhaging money by battling high-powered attorneys from both sides. 

But Sweeney is still adamant that his case against both companies is founded in reason, and has been utilizing his time at the South Korea conference to illustrate that fact.

‘Right now software ownership is fragmented between the iOS App Store, the Android Google Play marketplace, different stores on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, and then Microsoft Store and the Mac App Store,’ told several press outfits attending the conference Tuesday.

He then alluded to how his is working with developers and service providers to create a system that would allow users ‘to buy software in one place, knowing that they’d have it on all devices and all platforms.’

Earlier that day, Sweeney further expressed his disapproval of the current mobile app climate, proclaiming to the Seoul audience that Apple is currently infringing on South Korean law.

‘Apple locks a billion users into one store and payment processor,’ Sweeney told reporters Tuesday. ‘Now Apple complies with oppressive foreign laws, which surveil users and deprive them of political rights. 

‘But Apple is ignoring laws passed by Korea’s democracy.’

Google also garnered Sweeney’s criticism, with the exec condemning the company’s policy of charging fees on payments that it does not itself process as ‘crazy.’  

Google spokesperson Dan Jackson responded to Sweeney’s allegations Monday, telling Bloomberg that their company’s service fee for mobile app purchases ‘has never been simply for payment processing.

‘It’s how we provide Android and Google Play for free and invest in the many distribution, development, and security services that support developers and consumers in South Korea and around the world.’

Apple did not immediately respond to DailyMail.com’s request for comment. 

At the conference, Sweeney stated that the companies’ exclusionary practices as an abhorrence to the founding principles of the internet, and further attested that both Google’s and Apple’s ‘policies are so restrictive that if the worldwide web had been embedded after the smartphone, then Apple and Google would have blocked all web browsers from being released on their platforms.’

Epic Games currently oversees its own digital storefront, Epic Games Store, for users using PCs – not mobile gamers – and also charges a platform fee, albeit a lower one, of 12 percent.  

‘There’s a store market, there’s a payments market, and there are many other related markets,’ Sweeney said during his speech. 

‘It’s critical that antitrust enforcement not allow a monopolist in one market to use their control of that market to impose control over unrelated markets.’

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