On August 13, 2020, Fortnite developer Epic Games “declared war on Apple” after the company’s frustrations with the iOS version of their app being forced to use Apple Pay reached a boiling point. Following their 1984-inspired declaration, Epic Games proceeded to add an option in Fortnite‘s main menu that allowed players to choose to pay Epic directly — and at a lower cost — in order to cut Apple Pay out of the equation. As you can imagine, tech giant Apple didn’t take too kindly to Epic’s bold move, and quickly removed the Fortnite app from the App Store, kicking off a massive legal battle between the two.
Now, over a year later, the judge overseeing the case, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, has issued a ruling in favor of Epic Games, stating that Apple can no longer force developers to use its own payment system within their apps as it engages in what the state of California refers to as “anticompetitive conduct.” However, the judge also ruled Epic Games must pay Apple $3.6 million in revenue that was previously withheld, stating Epic’s “Project Liberty” (Epic’s name for its aforementioned attempt to allow players to buy from them directly and circumvent Apple Pay) was nothing more than a “highly choreographed attack” on Apple. Lastly, Judge Rogers argued Epic’s description of Apple as a monopoly was incorrect, stating “success is not illegal.” This ruling is scheduled to officially take effect in 90 days, meaning Apple could seek to block the order before then.
As you can imagine, both Apple and Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney had a lot to say about the ruling. In a New York Times article published earlier today, an Apple representative said:
“Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law. Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace.”
Sweeney provided his own comments on the ruling via tweet, stating “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.”
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
Ultimately, the ruling given by Judge Rogers could cost both parties a lot of money and neither one is walking away with a “victory royale,” meaning if you were someone who was rooting for both big businesses to be knocked down a peg or three, you just got your wish. However, I think the real takeaway from the whole trial has to be that popular Fortnite mascot Peely was also ruled to be “just a banana man,” which really throws the absurdity of this whole ordeal into perspective.