The Billion-Dollar Slap Fight, Round Two: Epic Games claim Apple’s Fortnite reprisals could ruin them
A brief recap: After Epic Games tried to circumvent the App Store and Google Play payment options to avoid cutting Apple and Google into their Fortnite profits, the two tech giants retaliated by removing Fortnite from their respective storefronts.
Epic Games responded by taking both companies to court and producing an embarrassingly petty Apple parody.
Since then things have heated up even further as Apple is threatening to remove Epic from their Developer Program if they do not remove the unsanctioned payment option from Fortnite. Epic is now seeking an injunction against Apple by arguing that the company are trying to destroy their business in retaliation.
The core argument is that by being removed from Apple’s Developer Program, Epic Games will be unable to maintain the Unreal Engine’s compatibility with Apple devices and thus developers will begin taking their business to competitors so not to miss out on that Apple customer base.
The centrepiece first their case is a recent US Congressional hearing in which Apple's Tim Cook claimed the company have never “retaliated against or disadvantaged a developer who went public about their frustrations with the App Store.”
Epic's claim is that this is far from the case. Instead, it will “irreparably damage Epic's reputation among Fortnite users and be catastrophic for the future of the separate Unreal Engine business,” long before their existing court case against Apple and Google has been settled.
Apple has seemingly already offered to return Fortnite to the store and revoke the threat of terminating Epic’s Developer Program membership if they remove the direct payment option but Epic wants to keep that option while still getting everything else they want. Top-tier negotiations.
While Epic pay lip service to worrying about their reputation among Fortnite players, the true heart of this conflict is always money. They can pretend to be on your side all they like, they only care about you as long as they can make money from you. This is why they are so concerned about the Unreal Engine losing business, that’s their big money maker. Yet they continue to grandstand in the public square, playing themselves as plucky underdogs against a corporate monolith, hoping you will forget they are a corporate monolith themselves.
It is unlikely either side will relent so expect more slap fight updates when they happen.