We’re at a huge moment in tech and antitrust history with the litigation initiated by Fortnite maker Epic Games against Apple and Google. While the Google dispute has taken a backseat in the news, the conflict with Apple has gone hot because of that company’s retaliatory strike and a request for a temporary restraining order from Epic.
The conflict began August 13 when Epic announced a discount policy and direct payment mechanism for Fortnite that Apple and Google said violated their respective terms of service. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has long argued that the 30% commissions the big companies take of every game transaction is unfair and Epic should be able to directly sell its in-app goods to players for lower prices. It argued that app distribution and payment could be as open on Apple’s iOS platform as it is on personal computers.
Apple and Google banned Fortnite, and Apple fired back with the claim that Epic sought to get itself a sweetheart deal other developers couldn’t get. (This was an easily refuted claim, as you’ll see below). Apple said it built the App Store on top of the iOS mobile platform at great financial risk and that Epic was trying to get a free ride now it felt it had paid enough fees. Epic sued both Apple and Google for antitrust and posted a parody video mocking Apple’s stance for freedom in its groundbreaking 1984 ad. Apple then tried to withdraw developer tool support from Epic’s Unreal game engine, which 11 million developers use, and a federal judge granted Epic’s temporary restraining order to prevent that from happening. Microsoft, an Unreal user, supported Epic in the Unreal Engine TRO matter.ADVERTISEMENT
A week ago, Epic argued why Fortnite should be allowed to return to Apple’s App Store over Apple’s objections. On September 8, Apple made its case in the U.S. District Court in Oakland, California, arguing that shouldn’t happen and alleging Epic owes damages. We’ve reviewed all of the documents and have summarized the arguments on both sides, as well as salient facts behind those arguments and interesting details about the business. On Wednesday, Epic said Apple will no longer allow users to sign in to their Epic v buck generator Games accounts using Sign In With Apple, beginning September 11. (Update at 10:47 a.m. Pacific: Apple reversed this decision).
Meanwhile, Google filed a response distancing it from the Apple dispute.
Epic claims it’s leading the charge for all developers and says it can only do so because it isn’t beholden to the tech giants. Fortnite revenue has given the company a valuation of $17.3 billion, and the company recently raised another $250 million from Sony and $1.78 billion from other investors. Apple, whose stock market value is above $2 trillion, is defending itself with rhetoric of victimhood and innovation, while Epic is attacking on the grounds of freedom, openness, fairness, and revolution.
In light of all this, here’s what we found interesting about the filings.