The lawsuits and legal filings between Apple and Epic Games look to be finally nearing a conclusion, with a trial set for May 2021.
The past few months have certainly been a wild series of events between the two corporations. There have multiple lawsuits from both Apple and Epic Games, and it all started over the circumvention of Apple’s 30% transaction fee on the App Store.
In this article, we’ll look back on the entire series of lawsuit filings from both Apple and Epic. We’ll take you through all you need to know, before the trial between the two corporations, expected to take place in May 2021.
Epic Games circumvents Apple’s App Store fee
This entire saga kicked off on August 13, when Epic Games introduced an update to Fortnite on iOS and Android devices. This update gave players the option to purchase V-Bucks directly from Epic Games themselves, instead of going through the App Store on iOS devices, and the Google Play Store on Android devices.
Whenever you purchase anything on either the App Store or Google Play Store, Apple and Google charge a 30% transaction fee. Epic created a method to directly pay Epic for V-Bucks. This allowed Epic to avoid the transaction fees and reduce the cost of V-Bucks to players using mobile devices. They didn’t need to pay any transaction fees to Apple or Google.
Apple delists Fortnite from the App Store
As you might imagine, Apple was incredibly quick to respond. Later that same day on August 13, Apple immediately delisted Fortnite from the App Store, and shortly after, Google followed suit by removing the game from the Google Play Store.
It was hardly a surprising move from Apple. It was not surprising that Apple decided to take away the source of income from Fortnite, one of the most beloved games in the world.
Fortnite’s 1984 parody video
It felt like like barely any time had passed at all before Epic’s extensive response to Apple was released. Epic Games released a video called “Nineteen Eighty Fortnite” that aired the same day. It featured a parody of an Apple advertisement in which Fortnite warned about how corporations are threatening to take over our lives.
The Nineteen Eighty Fortnite video was certainly a statement from Epic. Epic positioned itself as a company that can fight for dominance in the market. Epic sued Apple over the Nineteen Eighty Fortnite video.
Epic sues Apple over App Store dominance
The Nineteen Eighty Fortnite video took a bit of attention away from Epic’s ensuing lawsuit against Apple. Filing a lawsuit against Apple in California, Epic asserted that it would launch its own app storefront on iOS devices, were it not for Apple’s policies.
Epic stated that it felt obligated to charge more for V-Buck purchases on iOS devices due to Apple’s transaction fees through the App Store.
Microsoft files support for Epic against Apple
Microsoft files support for Epic against Apple
Interestingly enough, Microsoft was vocal in its support of Epic’s lawsuit against Apple. Microsoft filed a letter of support for Epic’s lawsuit against Apple, which mainly centred around Apple’s decision to block Epic from accessing the Unreal Engine and updating it for iOS devices.
Microsoft alleged that this would have a catastrophic effect for games on iOS devices that relied on the Unreal Engine. This would result in games that use the Unreal Engine not being updated and existing glitches or bugs wouldn’t be fixed.
There was also Microsoft’s own history with Apple to consider.
Microsoft’s own history with Apple was also important to consider.
When beta testing for xCloud concluded, it was clear that Microsoft’s streaming service would never be able to launch on Apple, due to the platform holders policies on having to check and certify each individual game. xCloud has now launched in full on Android devices, bringing hundreds of games to the platform through the cloud, but it was shot down by Apple. If Epic wins its lawsuit against Apple, and a third party storefront is allowed to be launched on iOS devices by Microsoft, Microsoft will no longer have to follow Apple’s guidelines for launching xCloud.
Apple’s temporary triumph over Epic in court
In late August, a judge ruled in Apple’s favor – but only temporarily. US District Court Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers sided with Apple, and ruled that they did not have to immediately reinstate Fortnite onto the App Store.
However, the judge also ruled that Apple could not block Epic’s access to the Unreal Engine. The judge stressed that neither side was “surprised” by the decision and allowed Epic to continue updating the Unreal Engine even though Fortnite had been removed from the App Store.
Apple and Epic head to court for a showdown
On October 7, it was announced that Epic and Apple would be heading to court for a trial next year. The trial in particular, which is due to explore Apple’s dominance as a monopoly over app distribution, is set for May 3, 2021.
The Apple v Epic in app payment trial date is set for May 3rd, 2021. Both Epic and Apple agreed to trial by bench rather than a jury. Focus will be on Apple as a monopoly over app distribution, forcing 30% cut. pic.twitter.com/Fjl0oxSmjWOctober 7, 2020
Epic takes legal action against Apple and Google to the UK
Epic has filed two new lawsuits, this time in the UK, against Apple and Google. Two new lawsuits were filed by Epic against Apple and Google in the UK in December. Epic wants to prevent Apple’s players from downloading Epic Games Store to their Apple devices. Additionally, Epic is asking Google to end its pre-installation of Google Play to Android devices.
The new lawsuits don’t change much about the overall situation – Fortnite is still unavailable on the iOS store, pending a trial in May, and Epic isn’t seeking damages from either company in the UK. The company told GamesIndustry.biz that “it is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit all consumers.” Apple, however, stated that the company “look forward to” arguing its case before UK courts.
You’ll want to keep an eye on the trial next May for a few key reasons. It will determine whether or not one of the top-selling games on iOS can be brought back to the platform.
Two, it’ll likely decide whether Epic can maintain access to the Unreal Engine on iOS platforms. This will likely have an enormous impact on iOS games using the Unreal Engine. It could also be important for smaller apps looking to launch iOS games.
Three, the trial will decide whether third-party app storefronts can launch on Apple devices. This trial is crucial because it will determine whether third-party app storefronts can launch on Apple devices. If Epic wins, this could allow any publisher to create an iOS storefront, allowing for endless apps to be made available to iOS users without Apple’s permission.
There’s a lot at play here with Epic’s lawsuit against Apple, and it could have far-reaching consequences throughout the entire games industry.
Epic vs Apple ruling made
On September 10 Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers issued an injunction that meant Apple would have to allow developers the ability to pay for things in apps through a different client should they so choose. The injunction states that Apple will be permanently restricted and prohibited from (i.e., including their metadata buttons and external links that lead customers to purchase mechanisms. (ii., communicating with customers via points of contact that customers have voluntarily created through their account registrations within the app. “
However, while this is central to Epic’s lawsuit, the court ultimately sided with Apple. The conclusion to the judge’s statement reads: “Ultimately, Epic Games overreached. The trial record did not contain as much information about antitrust behavior in the market. The Court therefore concludes that Apple does not constitute an antitrust monopolist within the mobile gaming transaction submarket. It does however find that Apple’s anti-steering practices are anticompetitive.
In response, Tim Sweeney tweeted: “Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers. Epic fights for fair competition between in-app payments methods and app shops for one billion users. “
Apple’s response can be seen in the tweet below.
Apple’s response to Judge’s ruling in Epic Case: pic.twitter.com/LeF4osdTQCSeptember 10, 2021
I’m Gamesradar’s freelance reporter! My hobbies include grinding at RPGs and losing to Apex Legends. I also enjoy talking about anime far too much.