Regulators ask Apple why it banned Epic Games’ iOS developer account from Mashable

On Thursday, the Digital Markets Act (DMA) officially goes into effect in the EU. The new antitrust law aims to take on Big Tech’s stranglehold of certain markets and industries, forcing companies to open their core platforms to competition.

However, on the DMA’s very first day, Apple is in the hot seat. According to a new report by Reuters, EU regulators are looking into the latest battle between Apple and Fortnite developer Epic Games. 

Why are EU regulators targeting Apple?

On Wednesday, Epic Games went public with the news that Apple terminated the video game company’s iOS developer account. Epic Games planned to open its own alternative marketplace, an App Store alternative that Apple has been forced to allow in the EU under the DMA. 

Epic Games already announced its intent to bring Fortnite back to iOS as part of this plan. The popular battle-royale game had been missing on the iPhone since Apple removed it from the App Store in 2020. Apple booted the Fortnite app from the App Store after Epic Games attempted to cut the iPhone-maker out of the in-app purchase system, avoiding Apple’s revenue share fees.

However, all of Epic Games’ iOS plans in the EU are now on hold after Apple terminated their developer account, citing Epic Games’ past history circumventing Apple’s rules and criticism of Apple from the company that allegedly breaks its terms of service.

“We have requested further explanations on this from Apple under the DMA (Digital Markets Act),” a European Commission spokesperson said to Reuters.

Apple isn’t faring well under the EU’s new regulations

While companies like Meta, Google, and Microsoft will all be affected by the DMA, no Big Tech company has made more headlines for its controversial response to the new regulations than Apple.

In preparation for the DMA, Apple announced updated policies in order to comply with the new rules. The company was criticized by its peers almost immediately for “malicious compliance,” as Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney puts it.

Perhaps the most controversial decision Apple made was with its new App Store structure. Under the DMA, Apple has been forced to allow “alternative marketplaces” on iOS devices that compete with the App Store. Developers who don’t want to follow Apple’s App Store policies can release their apps on iPhone and iPad via third-party App Store competitors.

Earlier this year, Apple shared its rules for alternative marketplaces and developers who distribute apps through them. Among Apple’s decisions was a fee scheme that saw app developers utilizing alternative marketplaces hit with a per-download fee that would even be applicable for free apps.

Under Apple’s new policy, developers who accept these terms could find themselves paying Apple more than they would have under the company’s old App Store terms. Meta, Microsoft, Spotify, and Epic Games all called Apple out for these policies, arguing that Apple was deploying DMA-inspired policies that acted against the DMA’s actual intent.

In addition to the App Store rules changes, Apple also announced that it was killing off home screen web apps as a result of the DMA. However, Apple quickly walked that decision back after significant backlash.

Now, on the day the DMA officially goes into effect, EU regulators have already announced a preliminary investigation into Apple’s termination of Epic Games’ developer account. Happy Digital Markets Act (DMA) day, everyone!

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