The ongoing battle between Apple and Epic Games continues to make the headlines this week following recent claims made by Epic Games’ founder and CEO Time Sweeney. In remarks made in Friday's filing before a federal judge in California, Apple made claims that the actions Epic Games undertook to bypass Apple's payment systems were "the same as if a customer leaves an Apple retail store without paying for shoplifted product."
Also in the filing, Apple refuted the claims made by Tim Sweeney that Epic was not seeking a special deal, referring to the 30% cut taken for all payments processed via the App Store's systems. Epic Games challenged this 30% cut by launching a new payments system within Fortnite itself where players could purchase V-Bucks, the standard currency for Fortnite's in-game item shop, at a discounted rate of 20% off, leaving Epic Games with a 10% profit versus payments run through the App Store.
Today, Apple said Epic is seeking a special deal, but that's not true. We're fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers. And it'll be a hell of a fight! https://t.co/R5A48InGTg
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 14, 2020
However, in today's filing, Apple countered these remarks with their own declaration.
On June 30, 2020, Epic emailed Apple requesting to offer a competing Epic Games Store app through the App Store that would allow iOS device users to install apps from Epic directly, rather than through the App Store and to offer payment processing options within Epic's apps other than IAP. [...] On July 10, Apple responded that "Apple has never allowed this . . . we strongly believe these rules are vital to the health of the Apple platform and carry enormous benefits for both consumers and developers."
Epic Games later wrote Apple on August 13th with a letter of intent to breach the agreements with the two companies and that "Epic will no longer adhere to Apple's payment processing restrictions." Apple also noted that Epic Games had prepared an "extensive PR smear campaign against Apple and a litigation plan was orchestrated to the minute."
[W]ithin hours, Epic had filed a 56-page complaint, and within a few days, filed nearly 200 pages with this Court in a pre-packaged "emergency" motion. And just yesterday, it even sought to leverage its request to this Court for a sales promotion, announcing a "#FreeFortniteCup" to take place on August 23, inviting players for one last "Battle Royale" across "all platforms" this Sunday, with prizes targeting Apple. Epic has also launched a campaign against Google, which uses similar policies to Apple's, and claimed Google is also a monopoly.
The litigation between Apple and Epic Games doesn't appear to be subsiding any time soon, with neither side backing down from their initial arguments. Players are still able to play Fortnite on the affected devices, although players will be unable to download a previously acquired client from the App Store nor will they be able to update the client. If Apple issues an update to the App Store that forces all users to update their software in order to be compliant with the latest version of iOS and iPadOS, that could spell the end for Fortnite on iPhones until this legal battle comes to a conclusion.