In the latest of episode of the epic saga, Apple has demanded Epic returns any money it managed to collect from Fortnite players when it had its 20% off vBucks sales, a sale which it managed by circumventing Apple’s 30% vig.
The company has countersued Epic Games, asking the court to hold Epic liable for breach of contract, and, seeking restitution of all money Fortnite collected through its payment system, and seeking a permanent injunction banning its external payment mechanism in all apps, including Fortnite.
“Epic’s lawsuit is nothing more than a basic disagreement over money,” Apple said in a filing with the District Court for the Northern District of California. “Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store.”
Apple claims Epic Games earned more than $600 million from the App Store, and was now trying to engage in commission theft by engaging in a sneak assault on the App Store.
“Unbeknownst to Apple, Epic had been busy enlisting a legion of lawyers, publicists, and technicians to orchestrate a sneak assault on the App Store. Shortly after 2:00 a.m. on August 13, 2020, the morning on which Epic would activate its hidden commission-theft functionality, Mr. Sweeney again emailed Apple executives, declaring that ‘Epic will no longer adhere to Apple’s payment processing restrictions.’”
Epic has been undaunted by Apple’s bluster, and Apple’s revelation of Epic’s App Store revenue has revealed Apple’s relatively weak leverage over the company whose well-orchestrated ‘sneak assault‘ may end up breaking up Apple. Epic has generated around $10 billion in revenue in 2018+2019, making the App Store’s $600 million over 10 years a mere 6% of Epic’s recent revenue.
Epic is currently requesting the court re-instate their games in the iOS App Store, and block Apple from further retaliation while their anti-trust complaint is investigated.