back to article Apple hits back at Epic, says Fortnite crew wants a 'free ride' on fees: Let the app store death match commence

Apple has filed a scathing response to Epic's lawsuit regarding the ongoing spat over the iOS App Store taking a 30 per cent cut of sales. In its 43-page court clapback [PDF] the Cupertino giant claims that Epic orchestrated its own banning from the Apple online souk as part of a plan to to plug its own service and get out of …

  1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

    Weasels

    "The lack of factual, economic, and legal support is unsurprising because Epic’s antitrust theories, like its orchestrated campaign, are a transparent veneer for its effort to co-opt for itself the benefits of the App Store without paying or complying with important requirements that are critical to protect user safety, security, and privacy," Apple writes."

    If Epic was able to deliver their service any other way, Apple would have a better (although still dodgy) argument.

    "it wants the court to allow it to free ride on Apple’s innovation, intellectual property and user trust."

    Free ride? The iBlob owner has already paid for the device.

    Imagine I wanted to sell seat coverings for Vauxhall Astras, and Vauxhall responded "Jamie just wants a free ride on Vauxhalls innovation, intellectual property and user trust."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Weasels

      Epic doesn’t have to deliver on iOS, any more than any game developer has to deliver on Xbox or PlayStation. They can choose which platforms are worth the fees of admittance and skip the ones they feel aren’t. Their lawsuit is so transparently absurd, but people gonna hate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Weasels

        Try that in the real world.

        I buy a car from you, but I can only carry passengers that pay you a carriage fee.

        Of course, "my friends don't have to travel in my car, any more than they do John's or Paul's"

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Weasels

        They can, and are, both weasels. Apple wants far too big a cut for what is essentially a tool chain that other charge at most 1500$ for, and some code review to screen for some basic and dire crap. The rest is basically extortion and rent seeking. Forts counter claim is laughable, as nothing they do requires unsupervised installation rights, and they shouldn't ever be trusted with them. I shudder to think of the wallet draining, ad slinging, and privacy raiding mess they would make of things if left to their own devices.

        That said it's probably a (weak) negotiating strategy to lobby for a settlement on more reasonable middle ground. But the are NEVER going to get what they are currently asking for.

        But what Apple wants to take out of the subscription revenue vastly exceeds what they offer in services for an app store with broken search capabilities, and vendor lock-in for payment processing. What you get for that 30/15/10$ is to be allowed, begging tin in hand, to access their base of millions of customers stuck in a walled garden they control. (and to be fair, the dev tools, but as I said their not worth paying points for)

        Apples constant attempts to compare themselves to a book publisher are ridiculous, as a publisher had to pay to print an actual book, distribute it, promote and advertise it, handle the accounting, and in many cases, paid advances to the authors to allow them to complete their projects.

        A game distributor that is paying out cash at every development milestone may be entitled to 30% or more off the top. The chance to be included in an algorithmically selected "top apps" list doesn't even justify a percentage point.

        As far as this fight goes, I'm not rooting for either side at this point.

        1. DavCrav Silver badge

          Re: Weasels

          "Apples constant attempts to compare themselves to a book publisher are ridiculous, as a publisher had to pay to print an actual book, distribute it, promote and advertise it, handle the accounting, and in many cases, paid advances to the authors to allow them to complete their projects."

          It would also only really work if a significant number of people in the world could only buy books from one shop, controlled by a particular publisher.

          1. Mark #255
            Coat

            Re: Weasels

            It would also only really work if a significant number of people in the world could only buy books from one shop, controlled by a particular publisher.

            Look, Jeff's working on it, OK?

    2. Mark 65

      Re: Weasels

      It’s more like getting Vauxhall to sell the seat covers for you and then not paying them anything.

      1. Lusty

        Re: Weasels

        @Mark 65 only if Vauxhall had somehow prevented you from selling seat covers through any other outlet, and even then only if concumer choice was Vauxhall or Ford and nothing else. The problem is that consumers have precisely two choices of phone, one privacy sucking ad slinging monstrocity and one overpriced monopolistic walled garden. This is definitely a case where the courts should help and should push Apple back. Do I think Epic are being reasonable? No, absolutely not. They just happen to be one of the very few in with a chance of stopping Apple and making the situation better. I support the lawsuit, but not necessarily Epic.

        1. BrownishMonstr Bronze badge

          Re: Weasels

          I thought the issue was Apple wanted all subscriptions to go via their payment system, and they don't want you to be able to distribute content through your app, which they otherwise could. Netflix et al being the exception.

          So it will be like you offering a service of using any car seat cover, but you have to pay £30 p/mo. Vauxhall says "fuck off, mate. I sell seat covers so you can't. Even so, your customers would have had to pay us and we'll take a cut. You can't tell them to pay you by cheque, mate."

          1. Lon24

            Re: Weasels

            Sorry I'm not into gaming so I don't really understand what's going on here. But I do have the Sainsbury's app albeit on Android. Does that mean they expect to take 30% of my grocery orders I make through it? If not, what's the difference?

            1. Charles 9 Silver badge

              Re: Weasels

              I believe the key element here is you can't pay through the app, at least not how I've read it. I'm an American, so I can't discern all the details. However, perhaps I can make a related comparison. What about, say, the Walmart app? This allows payment via QR Codes, and on the Android version at least, you linked Walmart Pay to cards one can add oneself. How does this work on the iOS version? Does it only take Apple accounts?

            2. Mark #255

              Re: Weasels

              This is one of Epic's points.

              If I buy a melon on a supermarket app, no cut to Apple.

              If I buy a digital melon in Fortnite, Apple want 30% of that.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Two rich companies fighting over money...don't care #%^$ them both.

    1. HildyJ Silver badge
      Angel

      Two rich companies

      True. But I know who I'd like to see win and it's not the sheeple shepherd.

    2. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      But if Apple ends up slashing fees, all of us devs will benefit; 30% is taking the piss.

      1. gnasher729 Silver badge

        "But if Apple ends up slashing fees, all of us devs will benefit; 30% is taking the piss".

        Maybe I've been in the game a bit longer than you. Back in the day, there was no way to get even 50% of the end user price if you sold through a brick and mortar store, so getting 70% is a huge improvement. The 30% also pays the cost for all the free apps.

        1. Justthefacts

          Retail vs wholesale

          Totally agree, but this is part of a *much* larger question.

          Our economy for at least the last couple of centuries has been built on underlying assumption of 50-60% of price going to retailer. Yes, it really is that high. Doesn’t mean the retailer makes that profit, just that’s the cost of retail. This is for *most* physical goods of moderate price, sold in a bricks and mortar store, doesn’t apply to food or cars, but definitely clothes, household objects, most “stuff”.

          Suddenly the internet comes along, and the retailers cut drops to 30%. That’s great, because consumer prices drop. The problem is, because the power of brand is so strong and geographical barriers disappear, the entire retail pie goes to half a dozen companies. This isn’t just about Apple, it’s Amazon, and eBay, and Alibaba, and, and. This is *the* 21st century problem we need to solve.

        2. DavCrav Silver badge

          "Back in the day, there was no way to get even 50% of the end user price if you sold through a brick and mortar store, so getting 70% is a huge improvement."

          Yes, but the cost of retail has dropped to essentially zero. So 98% or so of the revenue is a fairer split now. And it would be the case if there were not an oligopoly, both (surprise surprise) charging exactly the same amount.

        3. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

          No, I've never sold retail. But I'm old enough to have sold shareware when you got 100% the price.

          You can understand bricks and mortar stores needing a cut. It's much harder to understand what the online stores are doing. At least with Google, I can put in on a website for people to sideload. The punters get the 20% VAT saving, I get the 30% that Google would have taken - which more than covers the hosting and credit card costs. Only Google loses. But with Apple, you can't do any of that.

          And the stores have hovered up sales and lowered the market rates. If I put it on sale for a real price I'd be ten or twenty times the prices of the opposition. And I'm not any better than the opposition, let alone ten times, and the volume hasn't made up for that drop. So I've got more paying users than I've ever had and yet make less money - still it's just about enough to scrape buy (mainly thanks to sterling depreciation) and in the current shitfest you can't complain too much. But a reduction in Apple's cut would be nice.

  3. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Headmaster

    A few pertinent questions....

    Does Epic's ingame store work? Meaning,if you order some ingame currency or items, are they delivered to your account/avatar in an accurate and fairly timely fashion at the posted price to the consumer? And is the Epic ingame store software pretty stable and is the Epic store therefore reliably available to players?

    Does Epic discount said items well below what the items would cost if they are delivered through the Apple App store, or does Epic pretty much pocket Apple's 30% cut? Obviously Epic is doing "more work" to run their own store on top of the work they already do maintaining the game and relevant infrastructure to keep the game going, so I would expect Epic to take some cut to pay for the development and provision of the store, but what is that cut? Would Epic commit to maintaining any existing price advantage to consumers into some point in the mid-to-long term?

    If the answer to those questions is on the "consumer-friendly" side, meaning that Epic store accurately bills and fulfills orders in a timely manner, and it does this at a significant and lasting savings to ingame consumers, that would tend to support Epic's antitrust action against Apple under U.S. law. The other route would be arguing that Apple's appstore policies damage Epic significantly through actions take by Apple in violation of U.S. anti-trust laws, but that is a harder bar to clear and that route would also be helped if there was also an identifiable post-monopoly consumer benefit to reinforce Epic's claim of damages.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: A few pertinent questions....

      IIRC, Epic are selling the same things at the cost without the 30% bite from the Apple

      1. Steve Todd Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: A few pertinent questions....

        They are actually making more money out of the deal. On the App Store they get charged $3 on a $10 purchase. If you buy direct then they charge you $8 for the same thing, so unless their transaction cost is more than $0.99 (unlikely, CC companies charge circa 2-3%) they get more in their pocket.

        Meanwhile Apple also support purchases by gift card (so they need to give stores a cut), customer refunds (remember the scandal when kids were purchasing using their parents linked credit cards) and curation. It's not all gravy like Epic seem to claim.

        1. Mark 65

          Re: A few pertinent questions....

          In Apple’s defence, the Epic store doesn’t need to curate dodgey apps and updates. Perhaps a lower tariff is right for certain in app purchases, but free certainly doesn’t fly.

    2. Kimo

      Re: A few pertinent questions....

      Epic already has a working PC store with secure payments.

  4. cb7 Bronze badge

    Apple are saying that 30% cut enables them to maintain the checks etc that ensure iOS apps are free of malware etc. Whilst it also helps create additional profit, they carefully don't mention that.

    Epic want an open structure akin to what has existed (and still does) in the PC/Windows world, although ironically Microsoft are trying to move to the App Store model.

    Now we all know Windows isn't as secure as iOS but I can see how allowing a free for all on iOS could lead to "unsafe" apps.

    Either Epic will manage to secure a lower Apple cut, or they'll have to suffer a humiliating defeat and carry on as they were (assuming they want to stay on iOS). I really can't see Apple agreeing to an open App Store. Though if they get forced into it, I'll eat my hat.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      re: eat your hat

      I take it that said hat is a mexican sombrero then?

      IMHO, Apple plus Google (Epic have filed suit against them as well remember) will lose this fight. The laws of unintended consequences will take over and I get the feeling that Epic may well have signed their own death warrant despit winning. Win the battle but lose the war.

      Disclaimer. I own an iPhone (secondhand iPhone 8) and have never paid Apple directly a brass farthing for an iDevice and all the apps I use on said iDevice are free (train times etc) and I certainly don't game on the thing apart from the odd bit of Sudoku or Solitaire.

      1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        Re: re: eat your hat

        I also think Hell may freeze over and Apple will lose because this is not purchasing software which Apple can justifiably show they need to put effort into checking to protect their user-base but is instead in-app 'digitial' purchases. This requirement is not enforced where an app is used to buy a physical item such as using your preferred Outdoor Activities app to buy a new tent.

        To follow the practise of dodgy comparisons, this is like people buying a Ford and time they want to buy new widgets to improve the looks, the shop has to send 30% of the money to Ford

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: re: eat your hat

          Dodgy comparisons??? Everybody knows that tech related analogies have to use cars!

          It's the law!

    2. Hubert Cumberdale Silver badge

      "we all know Windows isn't as secure as iOS"

      I concede that this is probably true to some degree, but Windows and Android are dramatically more prevalent and hence malware writers target them more, which skews things a bit. However, there is always a balance to be struck in terms of controlling freedoms vs protecting the people from themselves. I view Apple's model as being a bit like China. Sure, they have a great economy and a very stable dictatorship government, but at what cost...

      1. Donchik

        If Apple charged a fee to vet the safety of an app, I'd not see an issue.

        Gouging 30% ad-infiniteum is obviously extortionate and not related to the service provided.

        1. Joe Gurman

          Compare

          The situation in movie theaters is a good analog. Here in the US, at least Before the Covid Era, theaters got 40% of the ticket price, and distributors, 60%. I don't know how much of that 60% got back to the production company and its shareholders, but figure 50%. Theater owners have to pay the minimum wage for the ticket takers and the kids behind the refrescos counter, but I figure that's negligible compared with the enormous markup on the candy, popcorn, nachos, and sugar water (about 300% over wholesale). They can amortize their investment in robo-projectors, and the only real salary probably goes to the one-per-multiplex troubleshooter who knows how to reboot the projectors.

          Is anyone going to argue that theaters shouldn't get a share of the ticket price? They provide a place to view the movies with screens larger and sound systems more expensive than you can have at home. The model has been changing for some time with streaming movies, but people still show up at the theaters (or did, BCE).

          Apple and Google are providing the screens and sound systems on which these games play, and at least in Apple's case, trying to provide at least some screening so the kiddies don't see the naughty bits. Are they less deserving of a piece of the action than movie theaters?

          Both the OS makers and the game company are greedy, but the game company couldn't have gotten where it is without those two environments. My guess is that this is a sign of desperation on Epic's part: they see saturation coming, with the number of total players leveling off, and likewise the revenues. The only way to get the same, enormous increase in returns? Cut out the middleman. Fine, but use your enormous profits over the last few years to develop and maintain your own ecosystem so you don't have to pay a share of the ticket price to the fruit company or the chocolate factory.

          1. Glen 1 Silver badge

            Re: Compare

            "Apple and Google are providing the screens..."

            Do you expect Ford to get a 30% cut of Uber's revenue?

            Can you imagine if Microsoft tried to charge Steam 30% for every game it sold on the windows platform? Its turtles all the way down, and they all want a percentage.

            The app stores should get *something* for the services they offer, but saying, in effect, "We *own* your customers" is outright sinister..

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Compare

              Poor analogy. Ford would effectively gain revenue from the reduced life of the vehicle through prolonged usage requiring a replacement earlier than if it hadn’t been used for ride shares.

          2. Wallsy

            Re: Compare

            But in this analogy the film makers are also demanding 30% of the popcorn and soft drink sales. Isn't it enough that they get 30% of the ticket sales?

            Admittedly there is an issue if the cinema were to move to a 'free movie, just buy lots of popcorn' model, but I think there has to be a middle ground between nothing ever and 30% of everything forever.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Compare

            Apple and Google are providing the screens and sound systems on which these games play

            Except that the end-users have paid for those screens and sound-systems, up-front. It would be like buying your seat in the cinema outright.

            If Apple were selling their product below cost price, on the assumption of app sales, there might be some value in their argument. At least, it's how Amazon Fire tablets were sold.

            However, Google are separate from the phone manufacturers. The phone manufacturers get paid one-time for the screen and sound system, while Google takes its cut of all the content just for carpeting the floor and installing the cash tills.

          4. LDS Silver badge

            "Apple and Google are providing the screens and sound systems on which these games play,"

            The user already paid for that dearly. Do you mean TV makers should get a 30% cut of anything shown on their screens and listened on their loudspeakers? Should music players ask a cut for every song played?

            The cinema offer you a service - not a device, just like a pub or a restaurant.

        2. Joe Gurman

          Careful

          Apple is only charging 30% "ad infinitum" for initial app purchases, subscriptions, and in-app purchases, which are one of the scummiest business practices in history. We could probably wean kids off these soak-the-addictable apps if we taxed in-app purchases to the tune of, say, 500%.

          If elected, I promise....

        3. TeeCee Gold badge
          Meh

          I have to agree. It's astonishingly difficult to describe a 30% rakeoff on each and every transaction as a "commission". Even football agents aren't that greedy and they're generally seen as thieving parasites.

          "Usurious extortion" is the description that springs to mind for me.

    3. Strahd Ivarius Bronze badge

      Apple has demonstrated that their store is not secure as they claim, since a "hotfix" can bypass the App Review process.

      So any hacker can and will post an innocent app with a catchy name and then be able to infect untold number of iDevices using the same method?

      What is then the justification for the developer license and the 30% cut on all purchases?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

    Apple are monopolists within their own store. Also petty, capricious, controlling, grasping and demanding.

    All Apple developers serve at the pleasure of King Jobs/Cook ( https://blog.codinghorror.com/serving-at-the-pleasure-of-the-king/ ) who can and will swat your business on a whim with no notice or appeal, and possibly without even noticing.

    The only argument is whether 'iOS apps' constitute a market to themselves, or if 'mobile apps' is the market.

    If the former, Apple lose.

    If the latter, Apple win on the argument that you can take your App elsewhere.

    1. Glen 1 Silver badge

      Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

      Is it within Apple's terms of service to sideload apps bought elsewhere? Do they try to pull legal shenanigans against such people? If there an Apple equivalent of F-Droid or SlideMe/Aptoide?

      Epic is big enough they could turn around and go this route. No 30% for you (either of them).

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

        It is not possible to place an app on an iOS device without Apple's permission.

        Apple explicitly prevent all other app stores and sideloading, and every method of doing so is a critical security flaw that they fix as quickly as possible.

        1. Glen 1 Silver badge

          Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

          *Ahem*

          https://altstore.io/

          for however long it lasts, anyway.

    2. gnasher729 Silver badge

      Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

      "Apple are monopolists within their own store. Also petty, capricious, controlling, grasping and demanding."

      That kind of "monopoly" is called a "natural monopoly". Yes, Apple has a monopoly on Apple products, Ford has a monopoly on Ford cars, etc. But these are not _markets_. Apple doesn't have a monopoly in the smartphone market. Ford doesn't have a monopoly in the car market and so on.

      And since nobody dares mentioning it, Epic makes its money by exploiting gullible kids to pay lots of money for digitial tat. Instead of paying £40 for a video game, the stupid kids pay hundreds on stupid in-app purchases. I'd be really pleased about laws stopping that kind of exploitation. Epic was a decent company before they sold a huge part of their business to China.

      1. DavCrav Silver badge

        Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

        "That kind of "monopoly" is called a "natural monopoly" "

        No it isn't. It's definitely not a natural monopoly. A natural monopoly is one where, by the nature of the market, it is likely that one player is an optimum outcome. Examples of natural monopolies are water supply, electricity supply and postal services, because having two of these networks would be hideous wastage, and also likely impossible for space reasons in the case of water and sewerage. Apple's monopoly on iOS apps is purely because they have a switch labelled 'allow 3rd party installs', and they turn it to 'off'. It's the exact opposite of natural.

        At any rate, it is considered standard that natural monopolies are heavily regulated so as to avoid abnormal profits (hello Apple!). Apple will want to make damned sure they are not considered a natural monopoly.

      2. Zolko

        Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

        "Ford has a monopoly on Ford cars"

        but not on spare-parts for Ford cars. Nor on gasoline and tyres for Ford cars. Apple has already lost the battle of independent repare houses, it will lose on this one also. Add to this the mandatory use of Apple's WebKit engine for all browsers on iOS, with Microsoft IE as precedence, they're certain to loose. They will probably loose much more, possibly to the point to having to allow sideloading of apps on iOS devices (with a warning)

        What's more, the fact that the Google Play Store asks the same 30% and has booted Epic from their store at the same time is a clear sign that a monopolistic cartel is at play.

      3. LDS Silver badge

        Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

        Even a natural monopoly is subject to antitrust laws when it is in a position to alter the market. Google stopping Epic as well shown the app market is a cartel where the two bigger players do alter the market.

    3. Zakhar

      Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

      Not sure they win in the long term if enough "very successful" apps are NOT available on iOS.

      Do you remember what happened to the wannabee third player that tried making phones with an empty application store?

      1. Spacedinvader

        Re: Serve at the pleasure of King Jobs

        Huawei?

  6. DrXym Silver badge

    And they're right

    As much as I despise Apple, they're the ones safe legal ground. If a company uses Apple's platform, ecosystem and store to promote a freemium game, then that company is required to abide by the terms and conditions or they get the boot. Epic got the boot. It wasn't even an accidental violation, Epic deliberately did it and even had an 1984 style ad ready to justify it.

    I imagine if they tried the same stunt on the consoles they'd be kicked off just as swiftly. The question is why haven't they?

    1. DS999

      Re: And they're right

      Because Epic makes FAR MORE money on consoles than they do on mobile.

    2. Kimo

      Re: And they're right

      You are not bound if the contract terms are onerous. Epic has a better suit against Apple then Google, as there is no way to get an app on an iOS device for a typical user except through the app store.

      1. DS999

        Re: And they're right

        But clearly Epic feels that sideloading isn't the best solution, as they initially offered it that way and saw limited uptake. They later put it on Google Play, but that low initial uptake (combined with the people who did install it that way not paying into Google Play) is probably why Epic says they make 17x as much on iPhone as they do on Android (but earnings on iPhone are similarly dwarfed by those on PC as well as on consoles)

      2. DrXym Silver badge

        Re: And they're right

        Epic are big boys and they have lawyers. If the terms were onerous they were not compelled to support the platform.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: And they're right

      If they were kicked off in the same way on consoles, then the console manufacturers should face a similar suite.

      It's no more legal just because other folks are doing it too

  7. Adrian 4 Silver badge

    Only 30% ?

    Epic should try selling through traditional channels involving shipping, stock, distribution. They'd be lucky to get 30% of the retail price, and their own product would cost them more to produce.

    They're taking advantage of a market built and maintained by Apple (or Google).

    Live with it or build your own platform.

    Sympathy = 0

    1. Kimo

      Re: Only 30% ?

      Epic has their own store on PC. I am certain that their acceptable remedies will include allowing Epic to offer their store on iOS.

    2. LDS Silver badge

      "Epic should try selling through traditional channels involving shipping, stock, distribution."

      Those channels mostly don't exist anymore for software - when was the last time you bought a physically packaged application in a nice box with manuals? Epic can deliver its software exactly like Apple does.

      Apple and Google needs applications to sell their devices as much as applications need the devices to sell their software.

      The funny thing is that if MS that created the largest market for software in the past had ever attempted something like this would have been identified with Satan in person. Heck when it bundled its browser in the OS without anything forcing anybody to use it, it looked the sky was falling. Poor MS, it should have just asked 30% of revenues on any software running on Windows and that would have been deemed fair by everybody, it looks....

  8. Lorribot Bronze badge

    Apple denying they have a monopoly is a bit disingenious. There is no mechanism to install Apps on to Apple devices other than from the App store.There is no alternative method to purchase apps other than through Apple. That is pretty much a monopolistic business model.

    You can buy Xbox and Playstation games from many different retailers as you can with Windows and also directfrom teh developers.Yes there are fees for Xbox and PS (games are often $/£10 more than PC.

    Apple and Google both provide a single point of entry in to their devices and charge 30% of sales for the privilege and don't actually provide much of anything other than the money the give builders for their ivory towers.

    If Microsoft had been doing this for Windows back in 2000s they would hammered big time but they have been allowed to get away with it for years.

    1. ZenCoder

      Android has multiple app stores.

      see title ...

    2. renke

      > Apple denying they have a monopoly is a bit disingenious.

      case in point: this story. Verge's subtitle "This sounds ridiculous" is spot on...

      1. arthoss

        Verge’s story is not well researched so it’s a bad example.

    3. Steve Todd Silver badge
      Stop

      "You can buy Xbox and Playstation games from many different retailers as you can with Windows and also directfrom teh developers.Yes there are fees for Xbox and PS (games are often $/£10 more than PC."

      Erm, you CAN'T publish a game for free for the Xbox or Playstation. You have to agree to Microsoft/ Sony's terms and conditions, pay for the SDKs and development tools, plus pay a royalty for each copy sold. AFTER you have done that then you have to give retailers their own cut to sell it for you. If you want to sell downloads only then you have to sell via the manufacturers own online store.

    4. DrXym Silver badge

      Just because your platform is proprietary doesn't make you a monopoly. If Apple were the only mainstream smart phone manufacturer then they'd be a monopoly. As they aren't and there is Google (and a handful of others), they aren't. Consumers are completely free to not purchase Apple products without suffering as a result - I've never owned an iPhone and felt disadvantaged from it, quite the contrary.

      As for XBox and Playstation games, yes you can buy them from places but Microsoft and Sony are still getting a cut. Be in no mistake about that. And for a game like Fortnite that is a free digital download I don't think that argument even applies. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo get a cut from sales of digital items just like with Apple & Google. If Epic pulled the same shit with the console platforms then they'd be as swift to take the game off their stores as Apple did.

      Ultimately this all boils down to money. Epic wants all of it and gambled that Apple would capitulate. I don't think that seems likely. Either Epic comes back on the same terms with their tails between their legs or they're off the platform for good.

    5. DS999

      But aren't the only phones you can buy. In the US they are a minority of all phones sold and worldwide they are in the 10-15% range.

      If Apple has an illegal monopoly in its own market then Sony as an illegal monopoly on PS4 games, Microsoft on Xbox games, and so forth. If they were not allowed to do that then they'd no longer sell the consoles at a loss, so get ready to pay $900 for a PS5.

      1. Kimo

        But the iOS store makes twice as much in revenue as the Google Play store. Determining if it is a monopoly will be a tricky legal question, and probably will make or break this case.

        1. DS999

          Is there still a 2x advantage for Apple in app store earnings? I suppose since more Android stuff is ad supported rather than a small price like "$2.99" for iPhone apps the sales for the respective stores looks like that.

          If you add back in all the money Google makes from serving the ads in those ad supported apps, which Apple doesn't get since they abandoned their nascent attempt at ad placement a few years ago, I'll bet Google comes out ahead.

  9. Dan White
    Thumb Down

    A good time to be a lawyer...

    Having carefully examined all the evidence, I can only conclude that I want them both to lose...

    1. iron Silver badge

      Re: A good time to be a lawyer...

      That would be the ideal outcome really but for once I'm siding with Apple. We all have to comply with the various app store rules and Epic should be no different. 30% is nothing compared to the markup expected by retail shops.

      1. Richard 12 Silver badge

        Re: A good time to be a lawyer...

        If you are a consumer or developer, you should be siding with Epic.

        Apple are a full and total monopoly in the context of iOS, and are trying to become one in the context of macOS.

        Operating systems are not easily exchanged, as if they were then Linux would have killed Windows a decade ago. Oddly enough, it hasn't.

        Leveraging their app store monopoly into an in-app purchase monopoly with such high fees (the Play store charges less) certainly looks like an abusive practice.

        If the current situation becomes formally approved, then everybody else loses.

        The only question is whether Epic have deep enough pockets.

        1. RPF

          Re: A good time to be a lawyer...

          Given that iOS devices are hugely outnumbered by Android ones, there is no way there is a monopoly here.

          1. xyz123

            Re: A good time to be a lawyer...

            By that logic, there are more grains of sand on a beach than there are Android devices, therefore there is no monopoly.

            The Monopoly apple has is ONE app store for ALL of iOS and one App store for ALL of MacOS.

            Imagine the fuss that would be raised if Windows suddenly become Microsoft-Store only. With no way around it.....Apple should play by the same rules.

            If they then want to say "we don't guarantee the quality of stuff on other peoples stores" thats down to them.

            1. Mark 65

              Re: A good time to be a lawyer...

              Don't include MacOS - you can install software from anywhere on that, the store is just a convenience.

          2. Zolko

            Re: A good time to be a lawyer...

            If it's not a monopoly then it's a cartel: an association of competitors to align their products and pretend none has a monopoly. Do you imagine nobody has ever thought about this ?

            And that's illegal too.

          3. LDS Silver badge

            "iOS devices are hugely outnumbered by Android ones" - are you sure?

            In the US Apple devices are not hugely outnumbered by Android ones - if I'm not wrong it's close to a 50-50 share. And what matters in an antitrust case in US is the US market share, not the worldwide one.

            Moreover with Google acting the same way it can even be regarded a cartel dominating most of the market.

  10. msobkow

    I get that people hate on Apple, but the simple fact of the matter is they do NOT have a monopoly and there is absolutely NOTHING requiring you to pay the Apple tax/premium for the hardware and subject yourself to Apple's walled garden. People *choose* to do that. People who choose to sell products for that platform *choose* to sign up for Apple's distribution services.; They do NOT "have" to sell Apple products, especially not something so trivial as videogames where Apple is a miniscule *fraction* of the gaming market.

    Nope, I'm 100% against Epic on this one. They're trying to make their own rules, got spanked, and now they're trying to convince the world their greed is "reasonable". :(

    1. Joe Gurman

      Well, more reasonable than the much larger Apple's or Google's.

      It's much easier to hate a US$2T company than a $17B (rough valuation, private company) one, though I get the impression Epic is trying to see how far they can push this without reversing that.

      1. DS999

        Re: Well, more reasonable than the much larger Apple's or Google's.

        A $17 billion company that's just under half owned by China's Tencent, which is worth about 3/4 of a trillion. Both are behemoths in their own way.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The key qualifier for me is, if they don't have a monopoly then what is the alternate mechanism for loading an app on a device using an iOS operating system (phone, tablet, watch, TV device)?

      That seems clear. The next step would then be proving harm is caused and how that is weighed up against the benefit of curation.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I get that people hate on Apple, but the simple fact of the matter is they do NOT have a monopoly.

      I get that your assuming hate shows you are biased, but the simple fact if the matter is that you don't know what "monopoly" means.

  11. Emmeran

    Epic needs to follow the SEMA example

    SEMA got past the automakers walled gardens, I have no doubt that their approach can be used to breach Apples monopolistic and thieving policies.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Epic needs to follow the SEMA example

      SEMA has a receptive audience that commanded good money for a product people could actually get their hands into; that's what forced the automakers to concede because they knew the first to cater to that audience would win.

      That kind of audience doesn't exist in Apple's world. There aren't a lot of "tuners" out there for iDevices; tuning tends to happen in the wild world of Android instead; Apple lets Google have that market. Besides, given all the patents and trade secrets involved, I don't think it's possible to put things like an aftermarket CPU into an iPhone.

  12. Dinanziame Bronze badge
    Megaphone

    I hope Epic have the balls to stay the course

    I hope they have the balls to offer Fortnite on a third-party app store for Android, and nothing for iOS. I could see this catching on; after all, it's useful to be on official app stores to become famous, but apps with over 100M players, angry birds and the like, can probably convince the vast majority of their players to download the app from their website.

    If the most successful apps leave iOS, maybe then Apple will change its practices...?

    1. Kimo

      Re: I hope Epic have the balls to stay the course

      Their lead attorney was the head of antitrust under the Obama administration. They are paying top dollar for lawyers, and they have enough in cash reserves to pursue this case.

  13. Kimo

    No clean hands here.

    Apple and Google have featured "free" games since the inception of their stores since most of the public won't pay $.99 to put an app on their $800 phones (which they don't often see the real price of thanks to no-interest phone sales by carriers). So game developers found ways to add addictive behavior to their games to sell in-app purchases. With the base game "free" the app stores need in-app purchase revenue to make any money of a lot of popular titles. Game devs have worked hand-in-hand with app stores to milk money out of users, and that created the environment where we are now. With no up-front cost, games companies would get a free ride from the app stores. But a 30% cut of every transaction in perpetuity is steep. There has to be a fair middle ground, But with no cut to Apple or Google, then Epic, EA, Nexon, Bethesda, and other devs would be taking advantage of Apple, in the system that Apple built on purpose. The companies built this system together to milk the most money out of consumers, to the point where a fair number of people will drop more money into a "free" game then it cost to by a triple-A PC/Console game.

  14. LDS Silver badge

    Apple is really scared that...

    Freeriding on and making easy money from someone else's work could become illegal. Even the mafia doesn.t ask a 30% cut for your safety and security... and here the innovation is the Epic game. The fact other stores can be as bad is a straw man argument.

  15. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    IIRC, in the UK, when Debit Cards were first introduced, the merchant and transaction fees were on a par with the Credit Card charges, before they were reduced due to protests by merchant and consumer groups

    Once Apple have vetted an app, it should not be too onerous for them to track and vet functional changes between versions, and if at all, have some sliding scale of capped charges to recoup their overheads.

    1. Steve Todd Silver badge

      Debit cards are charged as a flat fee. Credit cards charge a percentage of the transaction. From the consumer point of view they aren’t the same though. Purchases by credit card become the CC companies liability if there’s a problem (if, for example, you book a holiday and pay via credit card then the company going bust or there being a similar problem, it becomes the credit card companies problem and they have to refund you), debit cards are like paying cash, and the problem is yours.

      The example here was that Epic tried to sneak in a major change as a slipstream update. The idea that minor updates don’t need the same scrutiny is thus disproved.

      The other point you seem to have missed is that it’s Apple’s platform, which they are entitled to make a profit from. Epic don’t charge for their games and make their money via in app purchases. If Epic take that in house then where’s Apple’s share comming from?

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

        With Debit Cards, the issue at the start was the fees were broadly the same as for Credit Cards, and did not take into account the different risk profile.

        As for Apple's share - Granted, it's their platform. But they can afford to be less greedy. After all, take the likes of Warren Buffett, Bill Gales - they can't give their money away fast enough. In the case of Apple, what's all that pile of cash that has been accumulated doing? They can well afford to take a smaller cut, thereby making the total cost of ownership of the whole Apple ecosystem cheaper for their customers. Therein lies the problem. The "idiot tax" as it's referred to in these parts

      2. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "Debit cards are charged as a flat fee. Credit cards charge a percentage of the transaction."

        Must depend on the jurisdiction. As I work in American retail, I'm actually aware of those fees, and where I stand the fee for debit transactions is also a percentage, but generally lower (say 1.5% versus 3%) because they don't have to go through the major credit companies (Visa, MasterCard, etc.).

  16. xyz123

    All Apple has to do is allow third party stores on iOS.

    Google has been forced to do this via sideloading, and there would be an outcry if they blocked this on Android, so why isn't Apple made to do the same?

    They should also have to allow third party stores on the mac. Windows is forced to be open. MacOS should ALSO play by the same rules.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Apple's reply will be, "We can't verify the security of third parties, and security is a selling point for iDevice buyers." and point to their track record of malware apps versus Google's Play Store.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If I was the judge summing up the case...

    I'd dismiss the jury, and tell the court that Fortnite is a computer game played by only two groups of people:

    1. Children.

    2. The sort of irritating and pointless 20-30 something man who believes that growing a beard is the sole accomplishment he needs to achieve in adulthood, and therefore remains a despicable juvenile for the rest of his sorry and woeful life, refusing to take responsibility or step up: the human equivalent of a neutered dog.

    Neither of these groups deserves, can comprehend or do justice to the sort of beautifully curated and immersive experience that Apple offers its customers. Neither of these groups should be owning Apple hardware, so the absence of a pointless game on the Apple platform is neither here nor there to proper Apple customers.

    Apple wins; Epic loses. Epic pays all costs and damages.

    Next!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If I was the judge summing up the case...

      Looks like the 'beards' are getting uppity!

  18. 0laf Silver badge
    Holmes

    There is no such thing as bad publicity

    How many column inches and mentions has this 'spat' got Epic / Fortnite?

    In terms of advertising this might be very economical and the whole Apple store thing is actually meaningless. Maybe they were leaving anyway.

    Chuck $100k at a lawsuit and get $3M of advertising.

    Just sayin'....

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Recursion

    Assuming Epic prevails in this spat, will they be required to permit others to open in-game shops within Fortnite?

  20. EnviableOne Silver badge

    Apple have no leg to stand on

    the fees and percentages for dominant app stores on both iOS and Android are the same.

    Google Play charges the same 30% on one offs and 30% 1st year and 15% therafter on subscriptions

    They are both taking the piss, the difference is if you want an app on iOS you have to use the AppStore, on Android, there are other options (GalaxyApps, AmazonStore, APKPure, Aptoide, F-Droid,QooApp,Yalp Store,....)

    Apple and Google are making Like microsoft with IE, by using their dominance in the OS market to give them dominance in the app store market (all iOS phones have AppStore pre-loaded and set as default, All Google supported Android have the PlayStore installed and set-as default.)

    1. arthoss

      Re: Apple have no leg to stand on

      Apple also has 15% the second year w subscriptions. The difference to MS is that MS was a monopoly on the open hardware called PC while Apple builds its own custom hardware (iPhone, iPad and soon the Mac) for iOS. Hardware and software in one hand, the choice is easy to make (Apple or something else).

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Curation and security is why I’m on iOS

    Software is complex enough that I don’t trust anyone but the big players (apple and google), when it comes to curation. I’ll always lock the phones to the first-party store only. And only apple has the user interface motivation and vision, so I’d prefer to not be compelled to move away from it.

    If Epic would have converted the players to a subscription models, they’d have paid 15% to the App Store, not 30%, btw. So that reveals that they might only have one-off paying players and not who are regularly playing and paying. So it might be a downward spiral starting, could it? If it disappears, at least Fortnite will disappear in a blaze of glory. Too bad for a company that made the prestigious gears of war and UT. And shame on Tim Sweeney for using misinformation tricks! If Epic really became bigger than life they should grow a pair and make a full ecosystem and stop all symbiosis with the others. It didn’t work all the way for Steam, did it?

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