Pistacchio vs. Apple: iPhone Gamers Claim Anticompetitive Behavior in Subscription Game Market

Apple iPhone gamer John Pistacchio filed a proposed class action against Apple, Inc. on behalf of purchasers of “Apple Arcade,” a subscription mobile gaming service by Apple. The lawsuit accuses Apple of anti-competitive behavior in the iOS subscription-based mobile gaming services market. The case was filed in the Northern District of California, the same district hearing Epic Games, Inc. v. Apple Inc., a case in which the maker the popularly Fortnite game also alleges illegal monopolization practices by Apple. (See our post on the Oct. 9, 2020, decision in Epic v. Apple.)

According to the complaint, “Apple excludes any subscription-based mobile gaming service that has the potential of competing with Apple Arcade.” Pistacchio provided instances in which the tech giant has either rejected an app entirely or has forced developers to remove key features. In Google’s case, consumers are able to download its Stadia app from the App Store to manage Stadia on other devices, but cannot play games on iOS. Likewise, Facebook Gaming is available to iOS users but the game-playing feature was stripped entirely from the iOS version of its app. As for Microsoft and Nvidia, their apps have been barred all together.

The complaint accuses Apple of violating Sections 1 and 2 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, the California Cartwright Act, and California Unfair Competition Law, which bar monopoly maintenance, unreasonable restraint of trade, and unjust enrichment.

The complaint requests treble damages and punitive damages for Apple’s harmful practices which has “extinguished Plaintiff’s and the Class’s freedom to choose between subscription services, caused reduced innovation and quality of service, and caused Plaintiff and the Class to pay more for Apple Arcade than they otherwise would have in a competitive market.”

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