(Reuters) – Apple Inc said it plans to argue that it faces stiff competition in the video game market to defend against antitrust claims from “Fortnite” maker Epic Games, the iPhone maker said Thursday.
Epic sued Apple last year in federal court in California, claiming a 15% to 30% commission that Apple charges for the use of in-app payment systems, and Apple’s long-standing practice of controlling which apps can be installed on devices corresponds to anti-competitive behavior. The dispute arose after Epic tried to implement its own in-app payment system in the popular “Fortnite”
The case is set to be heard in May in Oakland, California, by U.S. District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who must determine which term “market” is appropriate to analyze Apple’s grip on anti-competitive behavior.
Epic has framed the case around the idea that Apple’s iPhones, with an installed base of more than 1 billion users, represent their own distinct market for software developers. Epic has claimed that Apple has a monopoly on this market because it decides how users can install software on the devices, and says it abuses that power by forcing developers to deliver their software through the App Store, where developers are subject to fees for some transactions.
In an archive that Apple planned to create on Thursday, the company rejected this concept, saying that the right market to analyze the case is the video game transaction market, which includes platforms such as Nintendo Co Ltd and Microsoft Corps Xbox game consoles, which also restrict software that can run on the hardware and charge fees to developers.
Apple said it plans to argue that consumers have many choices about how to complete video game transactions, including buying virtual tokens from game developers on other platforms such as Windows PCs and using tokens on iPhones at no charge to the game developer.
Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; Clip by Leslie Adler