Epic Games takes aim at Apple over App Store rejection

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Fortnite On Friday, creator Epic Games publicly lashed out at Apple after the smartphone maker rejected its latest proposal for a rival iOS App Store. The company said on X that the rejection came after Apple argued that the design of Epic’s App Store was too similar to its own.

The decision comes after Epic attempted last week to introduce an iOS version of the Epic Games Store, which would make it possible for iPhone and iPad users to download games to their devices without going through Apple’s App Store.

“Apple’s rejection is arbitrary, obstructionist, and in violation of the DMA (Digital Markets Act),” Epic said in a statement released on Friday X, adding that the company has already shared its concerns with the European Commission. Epic spokesperson Elka Luks told WIRED that twice in the past week, Apple has rejected Epic’s Game Store notarization submissions — a process in which apps are submitted to the company for review.

The case is part of a wider battle to control the apps available to billions of people. In a blow to the US giant, under new EU rules, the Digital Markets Act, Apple has been forced to allow an alternative to its own-brand App Store on European iPhones and iPads from March.

Image may include electronics, phones, mobile phones, babies and people

Apple’s App Store

Courtesy of Apple

Image may include electronics phones, mobile phones, and people

Epic’s proposed rival app store submission

Courtesy of Epic

“Apple has twice rejected our Epic Games Store notarization submissions, claiming that the design and position of Epic’s ‘Install’ button is too similar to Apple’s ‘Get’ button and that our ‘In-App Purchase’ label is too similar to the App Store’s ‘In-App Purchase’ label,” the company said.

Epic said its naming convention matches Apple’s because it was “trying to create a store that mobile users would easily understand.” Apple did not respond to WIRED’s request for comment.

More than 100 million people in the European Union use Apple’s App Store. The launch of the Epic Games Store will for the first time give those users a choice of where they want to download apps from.

That moment is eagerly awaited by lawmakers who argue that tech giants are stifling competition by blocking rivals’ access to their users. “The launch of an alternative app store within the Apple system would offer a major proof that the DMA can promote competition and thus lower prices for consumers,” Andreas Schwab, a member of the European Parliament who helped negotiate the DMA, told WIRED.

Epic and Apple are longtime rivals. In 2020, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple in California, arguing that the company’s grip on the iOS market was “unfair and unlawful.” Apple emerged (mostly) victorious from the US case. But in Europe, Epic has become part of a vocal community of developers who are concerned about the power Apple’s App Store wields over their businesses and the commissions the company takes on in-app purchases.

“Apple holds app providers to ransom like the mafia,” Matthias Pfau, CEO and co-founder of encrypted email provider Tuta, told WIRED earlier this year. Epic’s alternative app store proposal is a test case for the possibility of other alternative app stores that could reshape the relationship between Apple and developers.

The Epic Games Store is already available on PC, Mac, and Android, but not on Google Play. Now, the company plans to continue seeking approval for its iOS version, it said: “Barring further hurdles from Apple, we are set to launch the Epic Games Store on iOS in the EU in the next few months.”

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