Why are Apple and Epic going to court over Fortnite currency? | Apple
Apple and Epic Games will face off on Monday before a US federal judge, the last step in the manufacturer Fortnite’s campaign to open the walled garden of the iPhone.
The feud has escalated since last August, when Epic launched a plan – known internally as “project freedom” – to attempt to overcome restrictions Apple places on software designed for iPhones and iPads. Here’s what got the two companies to this point.
What is Epic’s problem with Apple?
The App Store is the only way to install software on iPhone and iPad, but businesses must follow Apple’s guidelines if they want to be included. These rules are Byzantine and control everything from adult content to security practices, but Epic’s main problem is with the rules controlling how it can charge customers “V-bucks,” the in-game currency used to. purchase items in Fortnite.
Apple is forcing large companies to pay 30% of the money they receive for such digital product sales – as of last December, small businesses can request a reduced rate – a reduction that Epic founder and CEO, Tim Sweeney, had long complained that she was being extorted. .
How did Epic start the fight?
Sweeney sent Apple a behind-the-scenes ultimatum: to allow Epic to run its own iPhone App Store, where it could accept payments without discount.
Apple rejected Epic’s terms, and on August 13, Epic unilaterally updated Fortnite to allow users to buy V-Bucks directly and offered a discount to those who did. Apple and Google, whose Google Play App Store rules were also bypassed, retaliated within hours by removing the game. Epic made the fight public, reworking Apple’s famous 1984 ad to feature the company under Tim Cook as the new villain.
reDoes Epic have a history with this sort of thing?
The showdown with Apple has echoes of past Epic campaigns, which have had mixed results. He managed to force Sony’s hand in 2017 into an almost identical playbook. Fortnite has been updated to allow “cross play,” allowing Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo Switch players to compete directly with each other, but Sony has refused to allow PlayStation owners to join. That fall, a brief software update – which Epic said was a mistake – enabled the feature for PlayStation owners, proving it was possible and making Sony the only one left. The company panicked, fearing it would lose its reputation as a “gamer-friendly” console platform at the time, and gave in.
Another attempt to bypass commands was less successful. Epic launched the Epic Games Store on Android in 2018, using a technical feature of Google’s mobile platform to legitimately bypass corporate control. The store operated for two years, but was ultimately closed because, Epic said: “Google disadvantages downloadable software outside of Google Play, through technical and commercial measures such as creepy and repetitive security pop-ups. . “
What has been Apple’s response?
Apple held on. The company not only removed Fortnite from the App Store, as Epic expected, but first tried to take it a step further by threatening Epic’s ability to release software for the Mac as well. It would have hurt another branch of Epic’s business, where the company makes the Unreal engine, a popular tool for developing 3D graphics for the gaming, film, and design industries. The courts blocked this salvo after Microsoft joined with Epic.
Apple insists that there is no room for negotiation and that the rules that the App Store runs on are there to ensure the safety and security of its users. The requirements to route payments through Apple protect users from financial scams, and the ban on installing alternative app stores prevents malware from plaguing the platform.
Does Epic have supporters?
A whole load. Shortly after the case was launched, a new organization, the Coalition for App Fairness, emerged, with members such as Epic, Spotify and Tinder owner Match Group. CAF is firmly targeting Apple and maintains that the company’s 30% cut “represents a huge chunk of its revenue, in many cases an unsustainable number.” The Guardian is a member of the News Media Association, itself a member of News Media Europe, which in turn is part of CAF.
Other CAF members have similar complaints about different parts of the App Store. makes gadgets that track lost items, a market that Apple entered in April. Tile argues that Apple has an unfair advantage because it allows its AirTags software capabilities that Tile was unable to use.
What is the legal case likely to ignite?
According to court documents, Epic will portray Apple’s restrictions as the acts of a monopoly player extracting unfair payments from companies with no option but to join. Apple will argue that the success of other mobile phone makers shows that it is not a monopoly and that the small portion of Epic’s business that occurs on iOS – apparently less than 10% of Fortnite’s revenue before it was retired. – further supports the idea that the two societies are equal.
Are there any surprises in store?
Rarely do business-to-business battles of this magnitude result in the opening of courts, because the incentive to settle in advance is so great. The list of executives lined up to testify includes Tim Cook and Tim Sweeney, Apple’s Eddy Cue and Craig Federighi, former App Store boss Scott Forstall and witnesses from Facebook and Microsoft. Sworn testimony taken by qualified lawyers could produce uncomfortable revelations from everyone.