(Reuters) – Apple Inc. said it plans to claim to face stiff competition in the video game transaction market to defend itself against antitrust allegations by Epnite Games maker Fortnite, the iPhone maker said on Thursday.
Epic sued Apple last year in federal court in California, alleging that 15% to 30% of the fees Apple charges for using its in-app payment systems and Apple’s long-standing practice of controlling which apps can be installed on its devices are anti-competitive. The dispute arose after Epic tried to implement its own payment system within the app in the popular game “Fortnite”, and Apple subsequently banned the game from its App Store.
The case will be discussed in May in Oakland, California, by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will have to decide which term “market” is correct for analyzing Apple’s moves on signs of anti-competitive behavior.
Epic has grounded its idea around the idea that Apple iPhones, with an installed base of more than a billion users, represent their own separate market for developers. Epic claims that Apple has a monopoly over that market because it decides how users can install software on devices and says it is abusing that power by forcing developers to deliver their software through the App Store, where developers are subject to fees for certain transactions.
In an application Apple planned to file Thursday, the company dismissed the idea, saying the appropriate market for case analysis is the video game transaction market, which includes platforms like Nintendo Co. Ltd and Xbox gaming consoles Microsoft Corp., which also restrict software that can work on their hardware and charge developers fees.
Apple said it plans to argue that consumers have many choices about how to conduct video game transactions, including purchasing virtual tokens from game developers on other platforms, such as Windows computers, and using tokens on iPhones free of charge to the game developer.
Reporting by Stephen Nellis of San Francisco; Edited by Leslie Adler