Apple last week removed Fortnite from the App Store, just hours after Epic Games debuted a new direct payment option to get around Apple’s in-app purchases rules that give the Cupertino firm a 30% cut of the action. Epic Games immediately filed a lawsuit against Apple for pulling Fortnite from the App Store.
Apple responded by telling Fortnite publisher Epic Games it will terminate the company’s complete access to its App Store and app development tools.
Apple today responded to the Epic Games lawsuit with its own filing, where it argues Fortnite should not be allowed to remain available through the App Store while the legal drama plays out.
Apple’s filing claims Epic Games back in June tried to negotiate a sweetheart deal that would change the way Epic offers its apps on the App Store. CNBC reports:
“On June 30, 2020, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney wrote my colleagues and me an email asking for a ‘side letter’ from Apple that would create a special deal for only Epic that would fundamentally change the way in which Epic offers apps on Apple’s iOS platform,” former Apple Senior Vice President Phil Schiller wrote in a declaration.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney previously said that Epic was not seeking a special deal from Apple and was instead fighting for “open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers.” However, the way Apple’s filing reads, Epic did push for a special deal before filing its lawsuit. “When Apple refused to fundamentally alter the way it does business to appease Epic, Epic resorted to sudden, unilateral action that blatantly breached its contracts with Apple,” says Apple’s response.
Epic asked Apple for permission to bypass the in-app purchase system and allow Fortnite players to pay for in-game currency directly. Apple denied that request, but Epic went ahead and included the feature in the game anyway. Schiller says Sweeny emailed him on the morning of the payment mechanism change and told him that Epic will no longer “adhere to Apple’s payment processing restrictions.”
However, in a tweet this afternoon, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney claimed Apple’s statement is misleading because Epic’s email also asked for the concessions to also be made available to other developers.
Apple's statement is misleading. You can read my email in Apple's filing, which is publicly available. I specifically said in Epic's request to the Apple execs, "We hope that Apple will also make these options equally available to all iOS developers…" https://t.co/yRio08fPSy pic.twitter.com/HsqjApFQeo
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 21, 2020
Apple lawyers argue that the emergency stay Epic is seeking is the remedy to an emergency “entirely of Epic’s own making.” Apple says if Epic removes the direct payment mechanism, Fortnite would be allowed back into the App Store and Fortnite’s developer accounts would remain intact.
A court hearing is scheduled for Monday that will determine whether Apple can remove Fortnite from the App Store for violating the App Store rules.