Apple yields to EU pressure, allows Epic Games store on iPhones in Europe

Under pressure from European regulators, Apple reversed its stance in the ongoing dispute with Epic Games, allowing the game developer to establish its own game store on iPhones and iPads in Europe. This development comes after Apple’s initial move to prevent Epic from launching a store and reinstating the popular game Fortnite, removed in 2020 due to Epic’s violation of Apple’s in-app payment rules in protest.

The catalyst for Apple’s change of course was the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), which imposed a Thursday deadline for major tech companies, including Apple, to adhere to rules preventing them from controlling app distribution on devices with iOS and Android. European regulators, including industry chief Thierry Breton, had warned Apple about its decision to block Epic’s return, prompting Apple to reconsider and comply with the DMA.

While Epic views this as a victory, it falls short of its broader objectives in the legal battle with Apple that began in 2020. The ongoing disagreement revolves around Apple’s 30% commission on in-app payments, which Epic contends violates U.S. antitrust rules. Despite Apple reinstating Epic’s developer account and allowing the Epic Games Store on iOS devices in Europe, tensions persist, especially regarding Apple’s interpretation of DMA and Fortnite’s unavailability in the U.S. App Store.

Amidst this conflict, Apple faces challenges to its App Store business model and a decline in iPhone sales. The recent reinstatement of Epic’s developer account reflects a compromise, with both companies agreeing to follow DMA policies, signaling the European Commission’s commitment to enforcing the rules and holding tech gatekeepers accountable.