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Fortnite maker sues Apple, Google after removal of game from app stores

Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google on Thursday removed popular video game “Fortnite” from their app stores for violating the in-app payment guidelines, prompting developer Epic Games to file federal antitrust lawsuits challenging their rules.

Apple and Google cited a direct payment feature rolled out on the Fortnite app earlier in the day as the violation.

Epic sued in US court seeking no money from Apple or Google, but rather injunctions that would end many of the companies’ practices related to their app stores.

“Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear,” Epic said in its lawsuit, filed in the Northern District of California.

Epic also attacked Apple on social media, launching a campaign with the hashtag #FreeFortnite, urging players to seek refunds from Apple if they lose access to the game, and creating a parody of Apple’s famous “1984” television ad.

In the parody, which quickly garnered hundreds of thousands of views, a female Fortnite fighter hurls a unicorn-shaped club to smash a screen on which an Apple-headed character speaks of “the anniversary of the platform unification directives.”

Apple takes a cut of between 15% and 30% for most app subscriptions and payments made inside apps, though there are some exceptions for companies that already have a credit card on file for iPhone customers if they also offer an in-app payment that would benefit Apple.

Analysts believe games are the biggest contributor to spending inside the App Store, which is, in turn, the largest component of Apple’s $46.3 billion-per-year services segment.