For the last year Apple and Epic Games have been embroiled a lawsuit in relation to the Fortnite app and purchases within it. The short version is that Apple was charging more for in-game purchases in the app than if someone were to make those same purchases straight through Epic, so Epic was telling everyone to use external links to make purchases for Fortnite instead of using the ones inside Apple’s app.
Unsurprisingly, Apple wasn’t very happy about this and banned Fortnite from the app store. In response, Epic sued Apple and began a very posturing campaign about how they were fighting for the rights of gamers. What the lawsuit was really about, though, was that Epic didn’t like how much of a cut Apple was taking from their in-app purchases so they wanted to send buyers straight to the source.
When they entered into the lawsuit with Apple they came at it from the standpoint that Apple was monopolizing the market through the app store. Essentially, to them, the app store violates anti-trust law. Despite the posturing, Epic had an intriguing case because their argument that Apple received too much of a cut.
On Friday, the year-long court case came to a conclusion. The result of it? Well, Epic technically won what they were originally fighting over but they lost the rest of their arguments. We broke down the general news of what happened in today’s rulings here. What a lot of people are interested in, however, is what this means for gaming as a whole. Did Epic succeed in their quest for “gamers” and what does this mean long term?
Fortnite doesn’t have to return to the app store
The biggest result of this entire case has to be in regards to the status of Fortnite on the app store and if Apple was considered a monopoly. The court ruled that Apple did not violate any anti-trust laws, but not only that they said in the process Epic violated their terms of agreement with Apple. Because of that they aren’t required to put Fortnite back into the app store. Not being able to have Fortnite available on Apple devices is a huge blow to Epic.
Why is that? Well, consider how many people own an iPhone. That’s the potential install base of Fortnite on mobile devices alone. Not to mention Apple TV. Mac users have been dealing with limited features ever since Epic and Apple’s feud began. Fortnite is still a lesser experience on Apple devices and that’s a hit that is going to hurt Epic for sure.
In-app purchases may change because of this suit
The original big argument point between Epic and Apple was over Epic providing links to make purchases without going through Apple. This is the one part of the lawsuit that Epic won. The court ruled that Apple has to allow apps to use external payment options which, of course, is not good for Apple because when purchases are made through the app store they then get a more significant amount of money. It would be one thing if only Epic couldn’t do this, however, but starting on December 9 all companies will be allowed to provide external payment links. Essentially circumventing Apple’s revenue stream.
This will leave Apple with two options. They can either continue to provide in-app purchases at current prices, hoping people pay extra for the convenience of not clicking on a link, or they can work with developers to reach an agreement on pricing. Either way, Apple will no longer be able to charge extra just because it’s Apple and they control the store. Considering how many apps there are on the app store this has the potential to cost Apple billions.
Epic wanted the judge to declare Apple a monopoly and force it to lower fees below 30%, neither of which happened. The judge also ruled that Epic violated Apple's terms and did not rule that Fortnite must be reinstated to the App Store. This was a big loss for Epic
— Jason Schreier (@jasonschreier) September 10, 2021
Nobody wins, but Epic lost more
While Epic won the original argument, it’s hard to say that they’re coming out of this case on top. Of the 10 rulings the court made in the Epic vs. Apple case, they ruled in favor of Apple in nine of them. Epic is, of course, going to appeal, but it’s safe to say that they didn’t win outright. The results of this case is going to cost them millions of dollars down the line. Not that Apple losing where it did is going to help them much better. Apple survived most of the rulings, but the external payments costing them billions are going to be a huge hit that may change how they approach the app store. If you were hoping this was all over though then think again.
Today’s ruling isn't a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers. https://t.co/cGTBxThnsP
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 10, 2021
Epic isn’t going to give up this one without fighting so we might see these two back in court again in the very near future.
At least we got this
Epic vs. Apple might not be entirely over, and the impact this is going to have on financials is going to absolutely have an impact on these two companies down the line, but we can take some joy out of it. Since Fortnite, one of the silliest games ever made, was at the forefront of all of this we got extensive arguments between lawyers about Fornite characters. This is a universe where they consider everyone that’s even been in the game as canon. That means Rick and Morty, NFL players, Travis Scott, Ariana Grande, and Marvel superheroes are all part of the Fortnite universe. One character in Fortnite, however, had the particular attention of the judges. Mr. Peely.
There was a significant amount of deliberation spent on what exactly Mr. Peely was. Is this a person dressed up as a banana or a sentient being? Well we finally have our answer. Mr. Peely is, according to a United States courtroom, “just a banana man.”
ARE YOU KIDDING ME pic.twitter.com/Vmp3isBtTx
— Rebekah Valentine (@duckvalentine) September 10, 2021
We’ve done great work here.