Apple Approves Epic Games’ Marketplace App After Initial Rejections

After multiple rejections, Apple has approved Fortnite maker Epic Games’ third-party app marketplace to launch in the EU. As now allowed under the EU’s Digital Markets Act (DMA), Epic announced earlier this year that it planned to bring back both its digital storefront and its flagship game, Fortnite, to iOS in Europe. On Friday, however, Epic Games took to X (formerly Twitter) to complain that Apple had twice rejected its application over concerns that its Games Store was too similar to Apple’s App Store. Epic subsequently said it would refer the matter to European regulators for review.

Later in the day, Apple approved the app from the third-party marketplace, on the condition that Epic Games would make the necessary fixes in a future update.

According to reports on X, Epic Games initially said that Apple rejected its submission over details including the position of its “Install” button for games, which Apple said looked too similar to its own “Get” button. It also said it was rejected because the “in-app purchase” label was too similar to Apple’s label.

Epic claims it uses the same naming conventions that are standard in popular app stores on other platforms.

The company also called the rejection “arbitrary, obstructive and contrary to the DMA” and said it has shared its concerns with the European Commission.

On Friday afternoon, Apple said it had approved the Epic Sweden AB Marketplace app, but added that the game maker still had to implement fixes required by Apple. Under Section 2.3(G) of Apple’s developer agreement, Epic Games had agreed not to make its Games Store confusingly similar to the App Store, the iPhone maker said. Apple noted that Epic had generally followed that guideline, except for the design and copy of the download button.

Apple also reported that Epic Games’ Fortnite app has already been approved.

Epic’s case is a striking example of how strict Apple will be with its new rules that will allow third-party app stores on iOS for the first time. Excessive rejections could also deter other developers interested in testing the waters with their own distribution channels.

Under the DMA’s new rules, Apple will have to allow third-party app stores on the iPhone, as the tech giant was deemed a “gatekeeper” under EU law. App developers can also opt into a set of new DMA rules that allow them to cut commissions on in-app purchases on the App Store, though the process still involves fees under a complicated new structure that sees developers pay Apple for use of its technology.

Epic has been battling Apple for years over a way to reach its iPhone customers without having to pay a commission on in-app purchases. The company took the case to court in the US, where it ultimately lost on most counts after failing to prove that Apple was a monopolist. But Epic’s persistent complaints led to Apple briefly terminating the game maker’s developer account in the EU, before EU regulators stepped in again. Since then, Epic Games has pledged to launch Fortnite on iOS and iPad in the EU and roll out its Games Store there.

Epic confirmed the approval of its marketplace app on X and in an email to TechCrunch.

Update, 7/5/24, 5:28 p.m. ET This post has been updated from the original version to reflect the latest developments surrounding Apple’s approval of Epic Games’ Marketplace app in the EU.

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