Apple Court Filing Says Epic Asked For Special Deal Before All This Nonsense Started

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Apple Court Filing Says Epic Asked For Special Deal Before All This Nonsense Started

When we last left the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple, the game maker had requested the court prevent Apple from removing its games and dev tool access from the App Store. Today, Apple fired back in a filing opposing the request, producing an email dated June 30 from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney asking Apple execs to let his company bypass Apple’s payment systems.

On August 13, Epic Games uploaded a version of Fortnite to the Apple App Store that bypassed Apple’s payment systems, lowering the price of the game’s in-app currency in the process. This was a violation of Apple’s policies, so Apple responded by removing Fortnite from the App Store. Then Epic filed a legal injunction, followed by a request to stop Apple from removing its stuff from the store.

Today’s filing by Apple addresses Epic’s request for what the device and computer manufacturer calls “emergency relief.” It opens with a statement arguing that the problem Epic is seeking to solve is of its own doing, caused by the company’s willful breaking of its agreements with Apple. I will say this, Apple’s lawyers draft a good document.

All of that alleged injury for which Epic improperly seeks emergency relief could disappear tomorrow if Epic cured its breach. Apple has offered Epic the opportunity to cure, to go back to the status quo before Epic installed its “hotfix” that turned into its hot mess, and to be welcomed back into the App Store.

What’s most interesting about the filing, however, is that it states that Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney emailed Apple in June of this year requesting his company be allowed to create competing payment options within the iOS version of Fortnite and other games, or its own competing Epic Games Store app exempt from Apple’s payment policies. From the email:

Because of restrictions imposed by Apple, Epic is unable to provide consumers with certain features in our iOS apps. We would like to offer consumers the following features:

1) Competing payment processing options other than Apple payments, without Apple’s fees, in Fortnite and other Epic Games software distributed through the iOS App Store;

2) A competing Epic Games Store app available through the iOS App Store and through direct installation that has equal access to underlying operating system features for software installation and update as the iOS App Store itself has, including the ability to install and update software as seamlessly as the iOS App Store experience.

Apple’s six-page email response to Sweeney’s message, delivered on July 10, is best summarised as “Hahahahahaha no.” Sweeney expressed his disappointment with their response on July 17, setting in motion the whole Fortnite-pulling debacle.

That Epic made overtures to Apple requesting special dispensation a month and a half before launching its lawsuit and anti-Apple campaign may seem a bit shady, considering Tim Sweeney is doing his best to make this a battle of the people versus Apple’s evil monopoly. Sweeney’s original email to Apple does contain a line mentioning other iOS developers: “We hope that Apple will also make these options equally available to all iOS developers in order to make software sales and distribution on the iOS platform as open and competitive as it is on personal computers.” Tim Sweeney took to Twitter following Apple’s filing, pointing out exactly that in a response to Rod “Slasher” Breslau.

Where do we go from here? The weekend, when I won’t have to read any lengthy legal documents for two days, fingers crossed.

Comments

  • I love how they’re trying to characterize a payment option cutting Apple out of the profits as a special feature to offer to consumers. Jesus fucking Christ.

  • All Epic had to do was shine a big fucking spotlight on Apple’s anti-competitive shit, the absurd cut they demand, etc, and then just keep banging on that drum.

    But no, they decided to made it a fucking soap opera… And now it could very well be swept under the rug, and Apple could end up looking like some victim as they slink off back to fleecing developers for glorified hosting and supposed ‘curation’ services that sure as shit don’t require 30% on the product price.

    • no matter what happens, apple will be seen as the victim. apple is that special company where the people that buy in to their bullshit also defend them to the end of the earth. apple can charge 1k for a monitor stand (its real) and the brainless cunts will still follow mindlessly.

    • It’s not a demand though right? Apple created a marketplace and participants opted in. Apple created the hardware, the software, and the massive userbase. Then Epic opts in but doesn’t like the very transparent terms and conditions. What gives them the right to demand different terms? It’s like me telling my bank i don’t want to pay interest on my loan anymore.

      • I’d see it as a demand when, unlike say Android based devices, there is not a single other option to developers to provide the products consumers want on the devices they want to use.

        Choosing to opt into something doesn’t automatically mean your hand isn’t being forced.

        Apple can yell about curation, and protecting users all they want, but with the amount of predatory apps/games they allow on the app store it all rings quite hollow. They use the same ‘protecting consumers’ bullshit against allowing people to have their devices repaired by uncertified Apple technicians, while their ‘certified’ repair locations are repeatedly caught blatantly lying about device faults in order to charge people for repairs they never needed.

        The moronic thing on Epic’s part was their intentional Fortnite stunt knowing exactly what Apple’s response would basically have to be… They could have just started shouting from the rooftops about the whole thing and NOT also get themselves booted in the process, but then that’d fall short of their attempt to weaponise their current userbase against Apple.

        • Why wouldn’t Apple charge 30%? They’ve built the worlds largest digital marketplace charging exactly that. This is capitalism. The choice built into the system is whether to participate or not participate – the price itself is determined by supply and demand.
          Personally i think Epic playing the White Knight whilst getting rich selling pointless skins is repugnant. But my choice is to not buy skins. I don’t demand they be made cheaper.

          • To be fair it’s not only Apple that take such a large cut. And I actually don’t have any sympathy for Epic’s woes about money, but what I do care about is better service, pricing, etc, for consumers. And honestly, it kind of pisses me off that Epic are using that as cover for their money grab here.

            However, the idea of “people have always paid that so its fine” is a bad one. Just because something is a certain way for a long time doesn’t automatically mean it should stay like that.

            30% of each purchase is exorbitant… Especially with microtransactions. You’re talking about things that are pretty much never additional installs that have to be served/downloaded to a device, because all the skins and such are already installed and in the game. The game literally has to do nothing but tick a box to unlock it for the consumer, and even that is something I’d argue is probably not even handled on Apple’s end but on Epic’s.

          • No, it’s not capitalism.

            Apple have built the world’s largest monopoly marketplace, closing off every possible avenue that someone might have used to compete by locking down the entire supply chain from hardware to software and buying out hundreds of potential competitors along the way.

            Capitalism is not “a choice to participate or not to participate”. Capitalism is not a borg-like process where one company gets larger than entire countries and then use that size and market power to extract massive rent-seeking fees all along the chain in exchange for virtually nothing other than a chance to play.

            Adam Smith would be turning in his grave.

  • I think Jim Sterling said it best. This is a billion dollar corp. vs a billian dollar corp. trying to get their “marks” involved in their fight for more money. We should all just sit back and watch them fight.

  • “Capitalism is not a borg-like process where one company gets larger than entire countries and then use that size and market power to extract massive rent-seeking fees all along the chain in exchange for virtually nothing other than a chance to play.”

    Dude. @angorafish that is literally the end-game goal of capitalism in every industry, and it is the inevitable result of capitalism. It’s the straight-up definition of late-stage capitalism. It cannot help itself and it’s the reason that we can clearly identify existential threats like climate change… and do fucking nothing about them. Every point of resistance against saving ourselves from climate change apocalypse is because of capitalism. This is what it does. It grows, it consumes, it eliminates the competition.

    • Modern corporate law is far more responsible for the “late stage capitalism” you describe than any essentialist guiding principle per se. Don’t assume that something must be just because it currently is.

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