MGM; Epic Games; Apple
Epic Games sued Apple over Apple’s App Store policies regarding in-app purchases back in Aug. 2020. Epic Games claimed that Apple had a monopoly when it came to the App Store where they were charging Epic Games a 30% commission fee on their in-app purchases in the popular game Fortnite. In retaliation, Epic Games implemented an alternative payment method going directly through them to dodge the 30% cut from Apple.
Epic Games has set up a coordinated attack against Apple to gain the attention of the public and in an attempt to set an example of the Apple company. Shortly after Epic Games implemented their alternate payment method, Apple swiftly reacted by taking Fortnite off the App Store and taking away Epic Games’ developer tools. At this point, Epic Games was attempting to win the public opinion by saying they are sticking up for the little guy by posting a “1984” parody video called, “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite.”
After all the back and forth, Epic Games officially filed their lawsuit against Apple over antitrust laws and Apple’s alleged monopoly over the App Store. It would be announced that a trial will be set for May 3.
On Sept. 10, judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers came to a ruling over the case stating that Apple is “hereby permanently restrained and enjoined from prohibiting developers from (i) including in their apps and their metadata buttons, external links or other calls to action that direct customers to purchasing mechanism, in addition to in-app purchasing and (ii) communicating with customers through points of contact obtained voluntarily from customers through account registration within the app.” Although this seems like a win for Epic Games, the court sided with Apple.
“Ultimately, Epic Games overreached. As a consequence, the trial record was not as fulsome with respect to antitrust conduct in the relevant market as it could have been,” stated judge Rogers. “Thus, and in summary, the Court does not find that Apple is an antitrust monopolist in the submarket for mobile gaming transactions. However, it does find that Apple’s conduct in enforcing anti-steering restrictions is anticompetitive.”
Epic’s response was short and tried to highlight what they consider the larger picture.
“Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers.” Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO, tweeted, “Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”
While Apple’s response was more PR worthy and defensive.
“Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law. As the Court recognized, ‘success is not illegal.’ Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment, in which we do business, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world.” Apple told Bloomberg journalist Mark Gurman. “We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace that supports a thriving developer community and more than 2.1 million U.S. jobs, and where the rules apply equally to everyone.”
At this time, Apple still has not brought back Fortnite to the App Store nor have they given Epic Games their developer tools back. In an email from Apple to Epic Games, Apple says that they have blacklisted Fortnite from the AppStore until all legal avenues are dealt with and the court’s judgment becomes unappeasable.
Epic Games still wants to continue the fight in an attempt to apply it around all developers. Sweeney is actively taking shots at Apple on Twitter and posting the emails to gain more public approval. This is only the beginning of the fight for both companies.