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Epic's Tim Sweeney is mad about Apple's EU App Store concessions

Epic Games viral '1984' ad campaign against Apple

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The App Store policy changes that are coming in iOS 17.4 aren't enough for Epic's Tim Sweeney, with him firing back at Apple for implementing an "anticompetitive scheme rife with junk fees."

In a statement provided to AppleInsider and a series of posts on Twitter/X, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has made it clear what he thinks about the European Union-mandated App Store changes, required by the Digital Markets Act (DMA).

So there's no misinterpretation, we're including Sweeney's quote in full.

"Apple's plan to thwart Europe's new Digital Markets Act law is a devious new instance of Malicious Compliance.

They are forcing developers to choose between App Store exclusivity and the store terms, which will be illegal under DMA, or accept a new also-illegal anticompetitive scheme rife with new Junk Fees on downloads and new Apple taxes on payments they don't process.

Apple proposes that it can choose which stores are allowed to compete with their App Store. They could block Epic from launching the Epic Games Store and distributing Fortnite through it, for example, or block Microsoft, Valve, Good Old Games, or new entrants.

The Epic Games Store is the #7 software store in the world (behind the 3 console stores, 2 mobile stores, and Steam on PC). We're determined to launch on iOS and Android and enter the competition to become the #1 multi-platform software store, on the foundation of payment competition, 0%-12% fees, and exclusive games like Fortnite.

Epic has always supported the notion of Apple notarization and malware scanning for apps, but we strongly reject Apple's twisting this process to undermine competition and continue imposing Apple taxes on transactions they're not involved in.

There's a lot more hot garbage in Apple's announcement. It will take more time to parse both the written and unwritten parts of this new horror show, so stay tuned."

The Epic-founded and -funded Coalition for App Fairness has a very similar stance on the matter. Rick VanMeter, Executive Director of the Coalition for App Fairness, has also issued a statement.

The statement is included here in full as well.

"Apple clearly has no intention to comply with the DMA. Apple is introducing new fees on direct downloads and payments they do nothing to process, which violates the law. This plan does not achieve the DMA's goal to increase competition and fairness in the digital market - it is not fair, reasonable, nor non-discriminatory

Apple's proposal forces developers to choose between two anticompetitive and illegal options. Either stick with the terrible status quo or opt into a new convoluted set of terms that are bad for developers and consumers alike. This is yet another attempt to circumvent regulation, the likes of which we've seen in the United States, the Netherlands and South Korea. Apple's 'plan' is a shameless insult to the European Commission and the millions of European consumers they represent - it must not stand and should be rejected by the Commission."

It's unclear why Sweeney says the policies are illegal under the DMA. Presumably, Apple has already submitted what it plans to do to the EU before the announcement, which is a DMA requirement.

Additionally, the DMA does not require zero fees applied by gatekeepers of app stores. It just requires that they be fair and reasonable. For third-party app stores outside of Apple's, the first install of an app requires a 0.50 Euro fee, but reinstalls by the same user are not billed again.

The terms of the new system are clear that the only fees Apple applies on payments is if the payment is processed through Apple. Alternative app stores have no fee to pay to Apple if they use their own payment processing.

There is a requirement that Sweeney doesn't mention in his Twitter/X thread that third-party app stores who want to have an app marketplace provide Apple with a letter of credit from an A-rated financial institution of one million euros. Apple says this is "to guarantee support for your developers and users."

Presumably, Epic, Microsoft, Spotify, and other large companies should be able to provide this, given the longevity, excellent financials, and user base of the companies in question. Apple still does not allow application packages to be installed from any source.

Fortnite remains banned from the App Store. It is available on game streaming services on iPhone and iPad — which will see changes worldwide in iOS 17.4 — and Epic is likely to restore it on its own app store to the EU as soon as it can.