According to Apple, since Epic has violated its contract, Fortnite and Unreal Engine permanently of the App Store until and unless Epic abides by the rules of the AppStore. On the other hand, Epic wants Apple to reduce its 30% cut from all the in-app purchases and allow to load other stores on iOS devices as well. Presiding over the case at the Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California is presiding over the case who recommended that the case should be brought before a jury.
Judge Gonzalez Rogers said, “I think personally this case should be tried to a jury,”. According to him, “These are important cases and they are on frontier of anti-trust law. You might as well find out what people really think and want” rather than relying on the ruling of a single judge.
The judge concurred to the conclusion after Epic and Apple focussed their arguments what customers want.
Apple has argued that it cannot allow Epic to side-load its own store on iOS devices since it would hamper the privacy and security of iOS devices and that its customers prefer Apple over other platforms because of its privacy and security features. This is the reason why Apple cannot allow Epic to side-load its store on iOS devices.
Epic has raised the fact that 71 million Fortnite players are on iOS, and they constitute 63% of the total players. And Epic based its argument that it’s not possible for most of these players to switch to another platform just to play Fortnite due to the costs involved in switching platform.
Moreover, Epic pointed out that its direct payment process was pretty popular for the six hours when it was available. As per Epic, nearly 50% of its users opted to pay via the direct method rather than Apple Pay. Apple responded that users could have been switching due to the $2 discount, thus its tough to conclude whether the users switched to the discount or if they didn’t want to use Apple Pay.
The revenue from the 30% “Apple Tax,” for in-app subscriptions, was a point of discussion as well. Epic was quick to point out that “Apple doesn’t make Uber use Apple services,” for which Apple didn’t respond.
What was interesting about that part of today’s hearing was Epic focused less on the 30% commission and instead focused on not being able to side-load apps onto iOS. Both Apple and Judge Gonzalez Rogers still hit hard on Epic’s contract breach, though. The judge at one point questioned Epic why it was so concerned with Apple charging a 30% commission when other companies like Microsoft, Sony, Steam, GOG, and others do the same. In response, Epic said, “We don’t challenge specifically the 30%… we’d like to distribute our apps on the iPhone without going through the App Store.”
As a matter of fact, it wouldn’t be a first time Apple if the case goes down to the jury. Judge Gonzalez Rogers presided over a case in 2014 in which the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against Apple about the fact that iPods could only play music from iTunes. Songs from anywhere else, wouldn’t play on the iTunes.
Besides, the status of Unreal Engine on the App Store isn’t safe yet. If the court decides to withdraw temporary restraining order (TRO) issued at the end of August 2020, Apple will ban Unreal Engine from the App Store. Apple’s position on Unreal Engine is that Apple is concerned about the fact that Epic would breach its Unreal Engine contract just like Fortnite and it wants proactively prevent Epic Games from doing that.
To that Epic responded stating “Unreal Engine is not consumer-facing,” and “Unreal is used all over the world for all kinds of applications”, moreover, Epic has not violated the Unreal Engine contract.
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