Apple plans to argue that it faces stiff competition in the video games market and that gamers would suffer should Fortnite developer Epic Games succeed in its legal battle to overturn Apple’s App Store policies, according to court documents the company filed Thursday, reiterating accusations that the lawsuit is part of a carefully curated PR campaign to revive interest in Fortnite.
- Apple unveiled its plan of attack against Epic in filings submitted to a California federal court Thursday ahead of a no jury trial in early May, resisting allegations of anticompetitive behavior by arguing the 30% levy it places on developers is standard across the industry.
- The argument rejects Epic’s claim that the more than 1 billion iPhone users, who must use the App Store to install software, is an independent market that Apple has control over, saying gamers and developers have options to use games across multiple platforms.
- Though Apple’s 30% commission on App Store sales is levied through the App Store, Apple said gamers have options to purchase in-game items on other platforms to use on the platform.
- Apple also said the billions of dollars it spends in developing the infrastructure that underpins the App Store justifies its fee, adding that Epic had “benefited handsomely” from this arrangement and earned more than $700 million from its users in the two years that the popular Fortnite game was available on the store.
- The tech giant also criticised the splashy public relations campaign Epic launched with the lawsuit, which was known internally as Project Liberty and portrayed the company as an underdog fighting Apple’s oppression.
The outcome of this lawsuit could determine the future of the digital marketplace and is part of a litany of investigations and lawsuits questioning the reach of big tech. Apple, and in particular its role of gatekeeper for what apps can appear on its devices, has been the focus of increasing regulatory scrutiny and criticism from developers and competition watchdogs around the world. The European Commission, for example, has four antitrust probes into Apple open, three of which involve the App Store. Epic has spearheaded the private sector opposition to Apple’s practices, which is now part of a larger movement of tech companies, including Spotify, Match Group and Tile.