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Home / Technology / Apple says Epic’s Fortnite lawsuit is a marketing stunt to revive ‘flagging interest’ in the game

Apple says Epic’s Fortnite lawsuit is a marketing stunt to revive ‘flagging interest’ in the game

Fortnite logo on a phone screen

Apple and Epic have been dueling in a California court since August.

Angela Lang / CNET

Fortnite is one of the most popular games ever made and soon will be one of the most lawsuits.

Apple on Thursday sent its description of its sour relationship with Fortnite developer Epic Games to the US District Court in California, where the two companies will square off in a lawsuit. starts next month. In its filing, the technology giant claims that after earning more than $ 700 million in the two years since the release of Fortnite on the iPhone’s App Store, Epic has come up with a plan to make even more – and at Apple’s expense.

In its description of the events, Apple outlined a media strategy called Project Liberty, which Epic allegedly planned with its lawyers and PR firm for several months as an attempt to draw more attention to Fortnite last year.

Last summer, Epic intentionally broke Apple’s App Store guidelines which insists that all digital products such as Fortnite’s victory bags, dance steps and new looks for characters are purchased through Apple’s payment service. Apple then removed Fortnite from the App Store for violating the rules. Epic responded by filing a lawsuit in August and launch an advertising campaign that went viral on social media.

“Epic will only freely ride on Apple’s innovation,” Apple said in its filing Thursday, arguing that Epic is using the lawsuit to “revive flagging interest in Fortnite.”

An epic spokeswoman declined to comment on archiving, noting that Epic has argued for fewer restrictions on Apple’s App Store since at least 2017. And in a competitive filing, Epic reiterated its earlier arguments that Apple’s App Store rules stifle innovation and that commissions lead to higher prices for consumers.

For many people, the archives are the latest twist in a corporate battle between a multi-billion dollar company and a trillion dollar company over who makes more money when a player spends money. But for Apple, this represents one existential threat to iOS software and the tools it builds around the iPhone, one of those best-selling technical products ever.

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Apple’s success is partly driven by the App Store, a service Apple launched in 2008, which offers developers a way to build special applications and games and then market them through Apple’s centralized service. Apple takes one commission of up to 30% on digital items purchased through these apps, a business model the company says is designed to compensate for the cost of running the store. The technology giant only allows people to download iPhone apps from the App Store, and any developer who does not agree to the terms is forced to create interactive websites instead.

Google has similar but less restrictive rules for the Play Store, and requires developers who publish apps on the service to pay a commission for the sale of digital goods. Google also allows users to “side load“apps from other app stores, which effectively download competitor platforms to their devices, which Apple does not. Still, the same day Epic broke Apple’s app store rules, did the same with Google and was similarly kicked out of the Google Play Store. Epic sues Google also over Fortnite in a separate case.

In the 13 years since Apple’s App Store launched, it helped propel the iPhone to astronomical heights, with more than 1 billion phones actively used since January. During last year’s holiday, which happened at the end of a year roiled by the global coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic disaster, iPhone helped Apple hack financial records. IPhone sales alone reached $ 65.6 billion, a 17% increase from the previous year.

The lawsuit, says Apple, is Epic’s attempt to change the iPhone’s business model. The company previously published emails in which Epic CEO Tim Sweeney asked Apple to allow alternative payment systems and download services, which would effectively let him set up his own app store on the iPhone. If a court forces such a change, industry watchdogs say it could fundamentally change Apple’s business, disrupting not only the economy but also the security and reliability the company built around the tight controls.

“Apple is one of the most innovative, competitive, dynamic and creative companies in the United States, and millions of people benefit from its products and services,” Apple said in its filing. “These products and services are the result of billions of dollars in investment, in addition to significant time and thought, and represent Apple’s intellectual property rights.”



Duels views

Until August 2020, Apple and Epic seemed to have a pretty good thing to go. In 2018, Epic announced that the popular game Fortnite will be made available for free for play on Apple’s iPhones and iPads. Over the next two years, the companies rallied more than $ 1 billion in sales of optional looks and gestures for characters. Then things were revealed when Epic tried to circumvent Apple’s payment rules, which led to Fortnite being banned from the App Store and now an upcoming antitrust lawsuit.


Fortnite has become an internet phenomenon, in part because of its addictive games and crazy characters.


Apple used parts of the filing to argue against Epic’s accusation that the rules for the iPhone and the App Store constitute a monopoly. In its filing, Apple reiterated earlier statements that they represent only a fraction of phones used worldwide, and that many of the apps built for the iPhone can interact with apps on other platforms. Apple also appealed an earlier Supreme Court ruling, writing that “antitrust laws’ were passed to protect competition, not competitors.”

Epic argued in its filing that Apple’s arguments for the App Store, citing improved security and reliability, are a smokescreen for what constitutes a business decision. “Apple can easily implement security features to support open distribution on iOS without restricting the distribution of apps to the App Store,” the gaming company said in filing.

The company also claimed that Apple’s ability to detect malicious apps was “limited”, based on a move by an Apple executive who oversaw fraud detection technology.

Epic also pointed to an internal case study Apple did of a fake “virus scanning” app. Apple’s app review team initially rejected the application, which did not actually search for viruses, twice before it was finally allowed in the App Store. It continued to charge unsuspecting customers $ 99 per week through Apple’s payment processing system, which quickly made it one of the most lucrative apps of its time.

“Apple’s restrictions on app distribution degrade the experience for consumers and developers,” Epic added.

Apple did not comment on the App Store study, but pointed to statements in the archive and noted that about 40% of the submitted apps are rejected by the automated and manual review process, which includes nearly 500 Apple employees worldwide. It also added that outside security companies have said that little of the malicious software on the Internet is targeted at Apple software.

Project Liberty


Epic presented Apple with a PR campaign shortly after it filed the lawsuit, including by making this “Tart Tycoon” Fortnite character with an apple head.

Epic games

Perhaps the biggest revelation of the two archives was Apple’s argument that Epic’s moves were carefully coordinated and designed to force Apple and Google to either change the app store rules or looks like the villains.

Apple’s view of Project Liberty, as the plan was apparently called inside Epic, will likely include emails from executives as evidence, among other things. Apple is also planning CEO Tim Cook to testify during the trialalong with other senior Apple executives – the sound of them will be livestreamed from the court to YouTube from May 3.

“Epic is asking this court to force Apple’s alternative terms so that Epic can make more money,” Apple said in its filing. “But Epic’s request would harm other developers and consumers, in addition to imposing on Apple unique obligations to open its proprietary systems and engineering to third parties.”

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