New European Union law paves the way forward for digital markets

IN 2020, Apple removed the highly popular survival game Fortnite from its digital store after developer Epic Games attempted to make it cheaper for players to buy in-game items.

This move by Epic Games would reduce the amount of profit that the tech giants — Apple and Google — would make from in-game purchases. The reaction from Apple was to clamp down hard and Epic Games responded with a lawsuit.

Fast forward four years, Fortnite is set to return to Apple devices due to the European Union’s new Digital Markets Act (DMA).

“Remember Fortnite on iOS? How about we bring that back?” tweeted the game’s official X (formerly Twitter) account on Jan 26.

Among other things, the DMA has forcibly twisted Apple’s hand into allowing third-party app stores on iOS devices. The law also forces Apple to allow users to “sideload” their own apps directly on iOS devices.

Previously, only Android users could do this. Due to the DMA and Apple changing its ecosystem to fit EU guidelines, Epic Games will now be able to put up their Epic Games Store app on the Apple Store, allowing users in EU to download Fortnite through the developer’s personal storefront.

That said, it remains an uphill battle for Epic Games and other companies, like Spotify, that have been critical of Apple’s commission rates, to make their products available on Apple’s platform.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney articulated it effectively in a statement on X made several hours before the Fortnite announcement. He highlighted Apple’s proposition, stating that Apple can selectively permit stores to compete with their App Store.

For instance, they could obstruct Epic from introducing the Epic Games Store and distributing Fortnite through it, along with the potential to block Microsoft, Valve, Good Old Games or new entrants.

Sweeney concluded the statement by expressing the need for time to comprehend both the explicit and implicit aspects of this new scenario.

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