There’s a new step in the ongoing battle between Fortnite developer Epic and Apple, with Epic asking the California court overseeing its case to step in to force Apple to restore its apps to the App Store on Saturday.
Epic said it was asking for Fortnite to be restored to the App Store and to “stop Apple’s retaliation against Epic for daring to challenge its unlawful restrictions.” The company also said this was a “necessary step to free consumers and developers from Apple’s costly, anti-competitive control.”
Today we asked the Court to stop Apple’s retaliation against Epic for daring to challenge its unlawful restrictions while our antitrust case proceeds. This is a necessary step to free consumers and developers from Apple’s costly, anti-competitive control. https://t.co/r2XxhitjMp
— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) September 5, 2020
You can read the full court document here in PDF form. It asks the court to prevent Apple from removing, de-listing, or refusing to list Fortnite and Epic’s other apps from the App Store over the issue of in-app purchases. It further asks the court to restrain Apple from taking action against Epic in retaliation, such as suspending or terminating its Apple Developer Program account. Finally, it also asks the court to prevent Apple from removing or modifying the version of Fortnite which already exists on iOS users’ devices, and asks Apple to restore Epic’s developer account.
Among the legal arguments, the court document also argues that allowing the apps back onto the App Store does Apple little to no harm, while continuing to allow Fortnite and other Epic apps to be banned from the App Store does Epic considerable harm.
The documents also include emails between Epic and Apple discussing the in-app payments issue. According to an email from August 26, Apple said it would restore Fortnite to the App Store in time for the release of Chapter 2 Season 4 and not terminate the Epic developer account if Epic would remove the Epic direct payment feature from the app. Epic’s decision to give users the option to pay either through the App Store or through Epic direct payment — which was advertised as being cheaper — is against Apple’s rules.
CEO of Epic, Tim Sweeney, argued in an email from June 30 that allowing users the option to pay through either method would mean lower prices for digital goods for customers, which would mean more income for developers. In a later email from July 17, Sweeney called the situation “a sad state of affairs” when Apple responded via its legal team and argued that preventing the use of third-party payments was protecting consumers.
Further evidence submitted by Epic includes comments and emails from users who were angry that Fortnite was removed from the App Store, some of whom were demanding refunds for their digital payments. In the filing, Epic states that “the user outcry has been deafening” and that daily active users on iOS have dropped by 60% since the app was removed from the App Store, arguing that this was causing irreparable harm to Epic as a company.
The next step is a court hearing which is due to go ahead later this month.