The battle between Fornite and Apple will be fought on legal grounds, but the popular video game is poised to win in the court of public approval.
Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook on Friday became the latest tech giant to lash out at Apple’s stiff 30-percent fees on App Store purchases by releasing a statement revealing that the iPhone maker declined to waive its hefty fees for a program Facebook was running to help small businesses make money during the pandemic through online events.
“We asked Apple to reduce its 30 percent App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19,” the head of Facebook’s app Fidji Simo said in a statement. “Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and [small businesses] will only be paid 70 percent of their hard-earned revenue.”
Facebook noted small businesses who use Facebook Pay for transactions keep 100 percent of the money they might generate from online events.
Facebook’s heel turn on the most valuable company in Silicon Valley comes a day after Apple and Google booted Fortnite from their app stores as punishment for a new payment system that allowed it to circumvent their steep fees for in-app purchases. Fornite’s parent company, Epic Games, then sued Apple and Google, accusing them of monopolistic practices and arguing that they should lower the fees they charge app developers that rely on their marketplace.
Apple charges developers a 30 percent commission for in-app purchases and restricts its app companies from telling users about cheaper purchasing options. Google also takes a sizable cut of in-app purchases.
Tinder owner Match Group and streaming music giant Spotify have both made similar public displays of support for Epic. Tinder — one of the iPhone’s most popular apps — offers customers a cheaper rate for its Tinder Gold subscription plan if they sign up via its website rather than in-app.
“We fully support Epic Games’ efforts today to show how Apple uses its dominant position and unfair policies to hurt consumers, app developers and entrepreneurs,” a Match spokesperson told The Post. “Regulators across the globe have expressed similar concerns and are examining Apple’s arbitrary practices.”
Spotify said in a statement that it “applaud[s] Epic Games’ decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple’s abuse of its dominant position.”
Epic’s new direct payment system gives users of the battle royale video game who opt to make in-app purchases to the company directly, rather than through the App Store, a 20-percent discount on their purchase.
Fortnite’s lawsuit blasted Apple and Google’s “oppressive” tax on the sale of every app, and likened Apple to a “behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” saying it is “more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear.”
The lawsuits don’t seek any monetary damages, but instead “injunctive relief to allow fair competition in these two key markets that directly affect hundreds of millions of consumers and tens of thousands, if not more, of third-party app developers.”
Apple and Google both said they look forward to working with Epic to resolve the violations and restore the game to their app stores.
Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has in the past complained about the large cuts that Apple takes from in-app purchases, saying that simply selling hardware doesn’t entitle the company to a large cut of developer revenue.