Epic Games asks judge to force Apple to offer ‘Fortnite’ in App Store

Epic Games said on Monday it was seeking to force Apple to offer “Fortnite” in Apple’s App store and has asked a judge to prevent any retaliatory action against its other games in the store.

Fortnite on iPad Pro
Fortnite on iPad Pro

Stephen Nellis reports for Reuters:

The videogame maker also said Apple will terminate all of Epic Games’ developer accounts and cut it off from its development tools starting Aug. 28… In its filing, Epic alleged that if Apple cuts off its access to Apple’s developers, it will be unable to keep offering the Unreal Engine for Mac and iPhone operating systems, which would in turn affect hundreds of game titles. Some of the games, such as PUBG, have hundreds of millions of players, Epic wrote in its filing.

“The effects will reverberate well beyond video games; it will affect developers who use the Unreal Engine on Apple products in many fields,” Epic said in its filing asking the court to issue an order blocking Apple’s move. “The ensuing impact on the Unreal Engine’s viability, and the trust and confidence developers have in that engine, cannot be repaired with a monetary award.”

Apple earlier removed “Fortnite” from its app store for violating in-app payment guidelines prompting Epic to file federal lawsuits challenging the rule.

MacDailyNews Take: Over the weekend, a hot dog vendor was kicked out of the local mall. The hot dog guy just rolled his cart in there, plugged in his neon sign, and started selling hot dogs without even telling, much less contracting with, the mall.

After getting booted, he went down the road and tried to do it at the next mall, too. They kicked him out, too. Now, he’s suing both malls for “antitrust violations.”

Plus, he’s also filing suit to force the first mall to let him roll in to sell his hot dogs whenever he wants, regardless of the mall’s retail lease terms.

Gee, wonder if he’ll win his lawsuits?


  1. Totally agree MDN – the hot dog vendor analogy is spot on, what is fundamentally wrong with the executive team at Epic – you have to pay rent to exist on someones platform, plain and simple.

    1. If I were Epic, and I were desperately trying to find some way to blow $50–100M, I don’t think a lawsuit with Apple would be my first pick. I think I would purchase a dozen hot startups with amazing rendering technologies, or upgrade the employee cafeteria in my headquarters , or issue a dividend to investors, or give executive or staff bonuses, or… you know, something else.

  2. That hot dog vendor was the worst analogy ever. We’re talking about a top-end gaming company being forced to give Apple 30% of their significant revenue based on the cost of their product and completely oblivious to the fact that other low-end vendors pay much less for the same service. This is EXACTLY what Apple complained about with Qualcomm. Apple was being charged based on the price of the iPhone itself while other vendors got the same parts for less money. Apple was up in arms over that, stopped payments and forced Qualcomm to come to terms. Apple is simply being totally hypocritical here.

    For a better roundup of what is going on, read this:

    1. Agreed. What Apple did was invent a way to make people NEED the mall when they didn’t before. We CAN’T go to a different store to get apps. While the original intent of this was benign, it doesn’t change how abusive this has become. What goes around comes around, Apple.

      1. Dude. Did you ever buy an app on your Motorola RAZR? (You know, the platform that charged you 25¢ to download a photo from your phone’s camera to your computer.) Or did you ever try to get an app published on T-Mobile’s deck? Apple is waaaay more democratic than the platforms that came before.

          1. And yet, Epic tried the side-loading route then gave up on it and returned to the Play store before trying to pull the same shady shit with Google.

            Why did Epic come crawling back? Epic claims it’s because Google put up barriers for side-loading. That’s bllsht.

            In reality, epic came back to the play store. because people want the convenience of an integrated App Store with a single point of payment. This concept has value and creates a captive market of customers that benefit software vendors. Epic wants to have its cake and eat it too, and has made a serious miscalculation. Epic would have been better off using their brand power to negotiate a more favorable commission with Apple and a Google rather than to bite the hand that feeds…

  3. Apple should have kicked them out in total across the board, giving Epic time was a mistake, the only thing a court will do is let Epic freeload on Apple.

    Over the years Facebook, Uber, Google, and Microsoft have hacked Apple store and Apple has been far to nice about it.

      1. Apple taxation without representation. What will the fanboys say when the next CEO turns the screws tighter?

        The Mac is an example of a great platform done right. You can buy exclusively from the Company Store if you want, but you can also buy and install with a much smaller price markup elsewhere too. iOS is Big Brother and it will only get worse as Apple becomes richer and less connected to the customer and developer.

        30% Apple skimming might make sense if one was selling a physical product that required tons of brick and mortar and operating overhead. Apple doesn’t have ANY overhead at all. They outsourced app distribution to Google and Amazon, you know. You do know this, right ? Or does MDN carefully avoid explaining this?

        For the benefit of the politically active voices here: compare the monopoly power of Apple’s iOS platform to the company store in a remote mining town. Sure, the miner could get on the train and buy goods elsewhere, but nobody ever in that era praised the fat rich company for jacking up prices. America is rapidly becoming a land of oligarchs, with special rights for corporations. And look how many unthinking citizens fall for it the marketing. Today these same corporate apologists demand infrastructure to be big and complicated and shiny and new — but they think tax rates <<30% (with representatives that are supposed to work for you) are objectionable. But 38% Apple average profit margin is lovely ! It gives Timmy more power to spend on his pet politics !!!!

        1. No overhead at all huh? Well it ought to be so very easy for you to start your own “no overhead” store and let the whole world in. Oh wait, do you have any rules? Or a way to prevent the myriad of bad/fake apps? Oh, and when one of your freeloading developers has an issue who do they call? And customers all have your direct phone line so they can have your personal help since you have no employees (er, overhead). No overhead means you also freeload on your hosting ISP.
          Do you truly believe APPLE doesn’t have to pay any of their 10s of thousands of employees? ‘IOS sucks’’ concept of math or common sense on business is what really Sucks.
          Your ignorance reminds me of an gentleman who brought a prescription for a compound (handmade) into my drugstore with the comment “I know how much the ingredients cost and it should be 3 or 4 dollars.” The old pharmacist looked at him and said “just a minute” and immediately went to the shelf and gathered several powders, a cream base, and an ointment jar. He put those items on the counter in front of the gentleman and said “that will be three dollars and fifty cents”. The gentleman said to the pharmacist “well, how much of the powder goes into cream? And how much cream do I use? And what do I use to mix it up with?” The old pharmacist looked at the gentleman and said “that is what will cost you ten dollars!”

          Do you see that Epic’s argument on the store fee is really a red herring as they are charging $7.99 outside of the Apple store and $9.99 in the store. So the real difference is actually one dollar in this scenario. And as so many people have pointed out, it DOES take a tremendous effort to make and develop the App Store and to keep things running in good order. What if Apple did away with all the developer services that it provides to Epic and others? Would they then cry hey I need your help? If they think they dont need Apple, just start their own mobile hardware platform. Then they can make the rules.

          “IOS sucks” as a user name implies you do not like IOS, true? Why do you think IOS sucks?

          2 long already

      2. So, before Apple invented the App Store, software companies paid less than 30% of their revenue to on-line and brick and mortar stores? Software titles were easy to get the attention of tens of millions of customers? Profits were higher than today? I’ve been self employed for 43 years and always paid 50% of my profits to overhead. I’m not sure of your beef with 30% to a store that does a lot more than have you pay rent.

          1. Which is by far the most profitable store the rest are crap, I never use a Windows or Android store or any of their hardware, like driving a truck it will never happen my choice.

            Don’t like Apple use the other crap brands and they are crap.

            1. Applecynicis SUCH a low level moron… the dumbest arguments… the most simplistic thinking… and the stupidity to spend countless hours in a forum ranting about products and services he hates. Crazy but true…

      3. In the days before your were born, in real world the middle men took 70%, before the end customer even bought the software.

        Apple under Cook has been very nice because he is a hired hand, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Larry Ellison, or even Jobs would have put EPIC down.

  4. Epic knew the rules when they entered into a contract with Apple. They freely used Apple’s tools, resources, and people to improve their product. Now Epic wants to pretend Apple is the big meanie.

    “That’s not fair” is the argument of a petulant, ungrateful child.

    Epic fail.

      1. Mate, you’ve totally missed the point. No one is forcing Epic to use Apple’s platform. They are free to leave at any time. They could always go start their own hardware business, create their own App Store, just like Apple did.

  5. So equally are Epic being hypocritical here for being totally commited to paying similar fees with very similar restrictions to the three gaming console manufacturers. All of whom as a result reported massive increases in their income when Fortnite was launched on their platforms. But of course Epic are completely unwilling to upset the apple cart in that instance as it would potentially destroy their business and the commitment there to the Unreal Engine which is far weaker on mobiles and less of a risk to take on. It will, as a very close analogy in this case therefore, will be interesting to see how they explain that anomaly to any objective Court hearing. Indeed in the particular case of Google and the Android platform Epic actually have more freedom to avoid those fees on that platform than on the consoles which are a completely closed shop in buying the games yet Epic are still suing Google.

    In reality this is a political self serving move, not a moral crusade and its based on an inconsistency, their sole argument being that mobiles are a ‘general computing device’ and ‘consoles’ are specialist devices and often sold as a loss leader. Of course very often so are phones in terms of hardware as it happens and equally Xbox in particular has been marketed by Microsoft as far more than a gaming console for years being able to accomplish far more than that in their own marketing, so this is fundamentally in itself a weak unconvincing argument. But as I say their motives are somewhat more complex than the base complaint itself.

  6. I feel Apple is getting yanked around by an ungrateful developer. That just seems crazy. Nothing has changed in the App Store for years and yet most other developers have dealt with it. Can it be improved? Maybe. Instead of 30%, Apple should charge 25% or have some sort of developer tier for fees. It just funny how the news media makes Apple look like the bad guy when every other company is charging the same 30% fee and the only difference is Apple is trying to make it simple for customers by only having the one payment option, the App Store. I thought developers were making money from the App Store, but Epic feels it’s being cheated. I’ll just let the courts decide and hope some fair decision is made.

    It’s weird how everyone praises Amazon for putting all of its competitors out of business, but they’re making a big stink when Apple does it on such a small platform. Amazon truly does have major market share while Apple doesn’t. I’ll bet Apple gets screwed by the courts and is accused of anti-competitive behavior because of just a few irate companies.

  7. MDN’s analogy is not quite correct. Here’s a better one: Apple built a state-of-the-art sports stadium that attracts boatloads of people. These people like to buy food when they are at the stadium.

    Epic is a hot dog vendor that doesn’t want to pay a commission on sales of hot dogs to folks who go the the stadium to see the big game. So, Epic is suing the stadium owner for having a ‘monopoly’ on the stadium it built.

    Hey Epic, here’s an idea: make your own smartphones, tablets, operating systems, developer tools, and software ecosystem, then sell your games there.

    Ungrateful sh*theads…

  8. Tim Sweeney says he is fighting so that ‘all users are free to install software from any source’ on iOS. That is EXACTLY what I do not want. It’s neither Capitalism, nor Democracy, nor Socialism; It’s chaos, perhaps even anarchy of the bad kind.

    “I trust the iOS app store and the iOS ecosystem precisely because it does not allow [untrusted, unvetted software]. Of all the many things to go after big tech for, this is the [wrongest]. In fact, [examining and vetting] is actually one of the few things a big company is doing right, and kudos to Apple for it.”

  9. Epic Games’ Sweeney is a vocal critic of the 30 percent cut typically taken by third-party store fronts, which is now widely accepted as the industry standard. Fortnite players on Android have had to download the title from publisher’s own website. This allowed the company to pocket 100% of the revenue but acquisitive Sweeney is not satisfied with 100%; He wants more by forcing other stores to host his games but at a lower rate so that he can pocket more.

    His Fortnite is stalling in popularity. It’s down to a flatline on iOS. This suggests that Epic needs a cash infusion and hopes that a suit against Apple’s infrastructure fee can accomplish it.

    Regarding antitrust, the US smart phone OS market share is very nearly split between Apple and Google, who work in direct competition with one another. This means neither company holds a monopoly over the industry. To prove that either company’s practices are illegally anti-competitive, I think Epic would have to prove some degree of collusion between Apple and Google. Specifically, if they jointly determined to set a 30% charge on app purchases in order to gouge developers while avoiding competition with each other, that’s illegal; if Apple set their rate at 30%, Google considered their options and independently decided to go with the same rate as recognition of what the market will bear, that’s absolutely legal. Therefore, antitrust law seems not to work in Epic’s favor in this case.

    1. Unreal Engine, Epic’s game and media development tool, is free for anyone to use, and Epic only takes a 5% cut if the lifetime gross revenues of a game or other interactive product created with Unreal Engine exceeds $1,000,000. Additionally, Epic takes a 12% cut from games that are published on its digital store.

      If a developer rebels and clamors to pay less then the 5% and 12% that Epic demands, Epic would likely kick them out its domain because they are not paying the cost of using Unreal and its infrastructure.

  10. So, Epic agrees to both Apple’s and Google’s ToS, posts their game, and immediately and knowingly violates both ToS. Then has the audacity to make monopoly claim all the while being funded by Chinese interests. That’s rich.

    On a side note: I’m a small iOS developer. I’ve never had the slightest problem with Apple’s 30% cut. The service the provide and overhead the take care of for me for that 30% is well worth it.

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