Apple fires back at Epic Games, files countersuit in Fortnite legal battle
Last we heard, the legal (and PR) war between Apple and Epic Games saw a major rally from Epic, filing an injunction against Apple to demand Fortnite be returned to the App Store after Apple had just got done scrubbing their digital marketplace of all Epic products. Now, Apple has fired back with a countersuit against Epic.
Apple states that Epic’s suit is “nothing more than a basic disagreement over money.”
The entire debacle started when Epic sought to gain special exemptions from Apple’s in-store payment structure, allowing them to charge players directly for their V Bucks rather than through Apple’s existing payment methods. When Apple refused then request, Epic went ahead and did it anyway, leading to Apple removing Fortnite from the store entirely and eventually escalated to the point where Apple was threatening to cut Epic’s Unreal Engine out of their Developer Program, thus killing their ability to produce games for iOS and macOS platforms. Epic fired back with a legal and publicity campaign against Apple, painting them as villains again the scrappy billion-dollar games publisher.
A restraining order was successfully granted to Epic, stopping Apple from terminating their Developer account but it failed to force Apple into returning Fortnite to the App Store.
Epic is still fighting to get the title returned to the store, without having to compromise their desire for a direct payment system, and so we are in this for the long haul.
Apple’s countersuit states, “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.“
They definitely nailed Epic’s hypocrisy there, behaving like the underdog when they are worth more than most companies in the industry. The suit would go on to say, “Epic’s demands for special treatment and cries of 'retaliation' cannot be reconciled with its flagrant breach of contract and its own business practices, as it rakes in billions by taking commissions on game developers’ sales and charging consumers up to $99.99 for bundles of 'V-Bucks'.”
The suit would continue to assert that Epic took full advantage of "the tools, technology, software, marketing opportunities, and customer reach" opened up to them through their access to the App Store and suggesting that Epic has “resorted to self-help and subterfuge,” when they did not get their own way launching “a calculated and pre-packaged campaign against Apple 'on a multitude of fronts—creative, technical, business, and legal,' as [Epic CEO Tim] Sweeney had previously threatened.”
Apple affirmed their stance that the App Store is not the monopolistic enemy of innovation that Epic claims, “The business practices that Epic decries as exclusionary and restrictive—including 'technical restrictions' on the App Store that have existed since it debuted in 2008—have vastly increased output and made the App Store an engine of innovation, with the number and diversity of apps, the volume of app downloads, and the dollars earned by app developers increasing exponentially over time. All the while, Apple’s commission only decreased while software prices plummeted and barriers to entry evaporated.”
Apple‘s goal here is to have Epic found in breach of contract and liable for intentional and negligent interference. They are seeking "compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees, and interest," as well as a permanent injunction against external payment systems being implemented in Fortnite. If they can get the courts on their side then Epic will be unable to pull this stunt again and it will set a precedent against any other companies that want to get bold.
The case is expected to resume on September 28th.