(CNN) — The maker of Fortnite is suing Apple after Apple blocked the wildly popular online video game with hundreds of millions of registered players from its app store Thursday.
Apple said it had removed Fortnite from the platform as Epic Games was violating the tech giant’s guidelines by announcing a way for players to buy in-game currency without using Apple’s proprietary payment systems.
Apple’s swift decision to boot Fortnite reflects the enormous influence of Epic Games, Fortnite’s owner. The clash between the two companies highlights the growing scrutiny over Apple’s App Store policies — which are the focus of a European Commission antitrust investigation.
Epic’s suit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California, accuses Apple of violating US antitrust law and claims the company wields anti-competitive monopoly power over the distribution of iOS apps.
“Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS in-app payment processing market,” Epic said in the complaint. It requested an injunction to prohibit Apple’s allegedly anticompetitive conduct and to mandate that Apple restore competition.
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Apple said in a statement Thursday that Epic had violated its App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments.
“Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users,” Apple said in a statement emailed to CNN Business. “As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store.”
Apple said it will work with Epic to resolve the violations so Fortnite can return to the App Store.
The controversy began when Epic Games announced Thursday it will offer a permanent 20% discount on Fortnite’s in-game currency if players purchase directly from Epic.
In a blog post, Epic said players could not get the discount if they paid via Apple or Google.
“Currently, when using Apple and Google payment options, Apple and Google collect a 30% fee, and the up to 20% price drop does not apply.”
The company added, “If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you.”
Epic’s post referred to how both Apple and Google app stores take a 30% cut of in-app sales. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has publicly criticized both Apple and Google for their practices.
Hours later, Fortnite had vanished from Apple’s app store — and Epic responded with its lawsuit. Fortnite remains on Google’s Play Store.
Google didn’t respond to a request for comment on Thursday.
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