Epic has continued to litigate their case against Apple both in court AND in the court of public opinion.
In their latest move, the company announced that they had filed for a preliminary injunction against Apple requesting that their App Store account be re-instated and their games made available once again to iOS users.
Today we asked the Court to stop Apple’s retaliation against Epic for daring to challenge its unlawful restrictions while our antitrust case proceeds. This is a necessary step to free consumers and developers from Apple’s costly, anti-competitive control. https://t.co/r2XxhitjMp
— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) September 5, 2020
In the 182 page document, they accused Apple of being a monopolist who retaliates against developers who do not toe their line.
Apple recently terminated Epic’s developer account, saying the company was repeatedly submitting updates for their apps for review which violated Apple’s App Store guidelines. Those violations were of course for a payment system for vBucks which bypassed Apple and its 30% cut.
In its statement, Epic Games said:
“Today we ask the Court to stop Apple from retaliating against Epic for daring to challenge Apple’s misconduct while our antitrust case proceeds. Apple is a monopolist and standing up to them is a necessary step to free consumers and developers from the unlawful restrictions Apple has imposed over app distribution and in-app payment processing on iOS. For too long, developers have not spoken out because they fear Apple’s retaliation. The company’s recent actions show that if you challenge Apple’s monopoly, Apple will attempt to destroy your business. We are committed to speaking up and securing lower cost, competitive access for all.”
While this is a new application to the court, it would seem to many watchers that this issue has already been decided.
Apple has already been temporarily restrained from blocking Epic Games’s developer account as related to Unreal Engine, mainly due to the harm this would cause to other developers, while the court decided that Epic would not suffer significant harm from not being able to sell games on iOS while the case is being heard.
While most frame the challenge as Epic merely wanting to earn more money, Epic sees themselves as warriors for developer and user freedom, with Epic CEO Tim Sweeney saying in an email:
“If Apple someday chooses to return to its roots building open platforms in which consumers have freedom to install software from sources of their choosing, and developers can reach consumers and do business directly without intermediation, then Epic will once again be an ardent supporter of Apple. Until then, Epic is in a state of substantial disagreement with Apple’s policy and practices, and we will continue to pursue this, as we have done in the past to address other injustices in our industry.”
While many fearful Apple fans have come out in support of the company, Epic has garnered a lot of industry support from both large and small development houses and service companies who complain of Apple’s onerous and unpredictable review process and its large cut of already low-margin businesses such as steaming music, all while favouring its own products and services.
Apple is already under investigation by competition regulators in USA, Europe, South Korea, Russia and Japan, and it seems unlikely the company will escape this confrontation with its rent-seeking policies completely intact.