Apple vs. Epic Games is going to court in May. Ahead of the impending legal battle, Apple submitted a 500-page filing to the court alleging that Epic had planned the antitrust lawsuit for months in advance in an effort to draw attention to “Fortnite.”
The filing described that a plan called “Project Liberty” was created by Epic in an attempt to paint Apple as the “bad guy” while reviving the decreasing interest in its game after the company saw a decline in its average monthly active users and revenue. The dispute between both companies began last year when Epic tried to insert its own in-game payment system in Fortnite to bypass Apple’s 30% commission. When Apple learned of this, it immediately removed Fortnite from all its platforms. Epic has since filed antitrust complaints in the United States, Australia, the European Union, and most recently, in the United Kingdom.
Apple claims that Epic Games’ lawsuit was planned months in advance
According to the filing, Epic’s plan involves a strategy that was created in order to pay less commission to Apple while enjoying the benefits of the App Store. The filing suggests the plan started with Epic breaking Apple’s App Store rules on having a separate payment processing service.
“This was all part of a pre-planned media strategy called “Project Liberty.” Epic retained Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and a public relations firm in 2019, and this lawsuit is the culmination of that effort. Epic seeks to portray Apple as the bad guy so that it can revive flagging interest in Fortnite. Yet, ironically, when Epic got kicked off the iOS platform, it told players that they could continue playing on consoles, PCs, and other devices–demonstrating the existence of competition and the absence of monopoly.”
In response to the violation of its policies, Apple removed “Fortnite” from its App Store. As per the filing, Epic Games predicted Apple’s reaction and had an ad campaign ready and had it released in conjunction with the lawsuit to defame the tech giant’s name.
Apple added that the lawsuit is unwarranted and an attack on its App Store business model of 13 years. “Epic is asking this Court to force alternative terms on Apple so that Epic can make more money,” the filing states, noting that this would be harmful to developers and users as the tech giant has stated multiple times, its review guidelines provide consumers with security, privacy, and reliability.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has previously confirmed the fact that the company had developed a plan against Apple and named it “Project Liberty.” Sweeney argued that the tech giant had violated antitrust laws for forcing developers to only use the App Store’s payment system and by taking a 30% cut in all in-app purchases. The CEO went on to say that ‘ “Project Liberty” is a move to force both Apple and Google to allow developers to sell in-app purchases without being forced to pay the 30% commission.
Apple believes that the 30% commission it charges developers is fair since it allows the developers access to over a billion devices and the commission is reinvested into the development of its App Store. This includes reviewing all apps so that Apple can determine whether they are safe for the devices of consumers or not.
Apple and Epic’s bench trial will begin on May 3. A judge will finally decide whether Epic Games will be permitted to bypass the iOS App Store commission rate and push a direct payment method for its Fortnite app or if Apple can maintain the payment structure of its App Store.