Malicious compliance is a fun thing to talk about on the internet, but it’s not always funny when one large corporation does it to another. Epic Games is accusing Apple of complying with a court order that required the company to allow non-App Store purchases, saying the tech giant’s required commissions are “anticompetitive.”
Apple can still block third-party in-app purchases, but the company has to allow app developers to direct users to an outside site for alternative purchases. Epic’s issue is that Apple still retains a 12 to 27 percent commission on the purchases. Additionally, Apple requires that users agree to leave the app, using an intimidating warning screen before letting them exit.
Apple also requires that the payment process open a generic web session, which makes the user log back in. It also makes developers segment the payment exit link from other parts of the app, creating additional development costs and opportunities for user dissatisfaction. Those practices can make using the external payment option a colossal pain, enough so that users give up and opt for Apple’s in-app processing.
Epic’s CEO took to X/Twitter to lay out his complaints about Apple’s compliance, and the company said it would explain its issues with the process in a future filing. Apple isn’t sitting quietly while this is happening, either. The company is suing Epic for $73.4 million for what it said were violations of its app store policies. That amount relates to Epic’s loss against Apple in an antitrust suit, after which the game maker said it would pay the damages.
Epic’s Fortnite game had alternative in-app payment functions that offered users cheaper purchases than Apple’s in-app function did. Users could buy 1,000 V-Bucks in the game for $7.99 instead of the $9.99 Apple wanted for the purchase. Though convenient for players, the move ran afoul of Apple’s policies.