In the war between Epic Games and Apple, the tables have turned. The video game developer decided to implement its own payment method in ‘Fortnite’ and consequently Apple (also Google) withdrew the game from its store in connection with some breach of the rules. Epic Games immediately filed a lawsuit against Apple for alleged monopolistic practices by abusing its unique distribution of apps and games on iOS. Now the tables are turned, Apple has filed a counterclaim against Epic Games.
There is still a long way to go before a solution is reached in the trial between Apple and Epic Games. At the moment the only thing that was clear is that Apple cannot remove Unreal Engine from its ecosystem, they only can remove the app ‘Fortnite’ as ruled by a judge in a temporary resolution. While this problem is resolving, more demands, accusations and conditions will be added by each individuals.
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Epic Games is not the “modern corporate Robin Hood”
The lawsuit leaves some interesting statements regarding how they view Epic Games. For Apple, the image that Epic Games seeks to create that they are the ones who seek to defend small developers from the power of Apple, is wrong. They explain it with an analogy to Robin Hood:
“Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store.”
Essentially what Apple seems to be asking is that Epic Games should return the money they have made with illegal payment method (in the terms of the App Store) for purchases within ‘Fortnite’. This claim is for purchases within ‘Fortnite’ that were made between the hours from when they activated the own payment method until the app was withdrawn. Apple, however, does not make it clear the amount of the money.
Apple describes Epic’s actions as a “stealth assault” and its direct payment feature as “commission stealing functionality.” This is why they seek the refund of that money with their own payment method. Also a permanent court order that prohibits Epic’s payment method in all apps, including ‘Fortnite’.
It will take months until there is a clear solution and we will hardly see ‘Fortnite’ again in the App Store. While Epic Games has asked in court to be allowed to operate the store again with its flagship game, the temporary order acknowledged to Apple that Epic Games had broken the rules. Whether or not those rules are fair is what will be resolved in the future.