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Published: May 4, 2021

Written by: Kyamil Nasuf

  • Epic Games and Apple present their opening arguments in the anti-competitive lawsuit brought up by Epic against the iOS developer
  • Epic argues that Mac OS allows third-party installations and should therefore allow the company to sell its own iOS Fortnite
  • Apple’s lawyers have stated that iOS and Mac OS are two completely different platforms

The anti-competitive trial against Apple filed by Epic Games began on Monday with both sides putting their arguments forward for the court.

Apple and Epic Games’ Court Battle Begins

Epic Games’ current legal tug-of-war with Apple has brought to light some interesting information about the company behind Fortnite, the defining battle royal experience that has amassed a staggering player base.

According to documents submitted as part of the Epic Games v. Apple antitrust trial, Fortnite generated 97% of the revenue for the company in 2018 and then 88% of the total revenue in 2019, making Epic Games almost entirely reliant on its flagship game.

The initial success of Fortnite promoted the company from the fringes to the very top of the video gaming world, with Epic clocking increasing amounts of money year after year. In 2020, Epic reported $5.1 billion in revenue based on the documents submitted to the court at the start of the trial.

The information provided by those documents proved quite interesting, with Epic hoping to have achieved a much better success with the Fortnite World Cup, the company’s ambitious esports project that featured a hefty prize pool.

Tim Sweeney, Epic’s chief executive, was cross-examined by both sides’ lawyers on Monday, with legal experts interviewing the CEO for over two hours. The questions ranged from clarifications on the specifics of gaming vernacular to those that examined Sweeney’s motives to pursue an anti-competitive lawsuit against Apple.

Sweeney simply replied that it had gotten to the point where the marketplace was generating bigger revenue from the sale of Epic’s assets than the developer:

“We got to the point where Apple was making more money selling a developer’s product on the App Store than the developer was making themselves.”

Tim Sweeney, Epic Games CEO

The documents also revealed that Epic was turning a pretty penny on Sony PlayStation where V-Bucks were the main driver of revenue, and just like Apple, Sony was charging 30% on purchases.

Two Completely Different Stories

Predictably, the plaintiff and the defendant’s opening arguments depicted two completely different stories. On the one hand, Epic argued that Apple’s store was a walled garden where the policies were outright anti-competitive.

Epic brought an argument against third-parties and installations on iOS and Mac OS, arguing that whatever policies were in place right now, they were to the ultimate benefit of Apple, and not the end-user.

Essentially, Epic sought to know why it would be impossible for the company to sell its own product outside of the Apple Store if Mac OS already allowed third-party installations.

Apple, though, responded that the distinctions between iOS and Mac OS were big and that the practices upheld by the Apple Store were well in line with what everyone else is doing on the market, including Steam, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox.

The hearings will most likely lead to a quick ruling and we will see Apple CEO Tim Cook and Microsoft executives stepping in to provide their versions of what is considered competitive market practices.

Epic Games is once again taking on the status quo, but the outcome will depend on who makes the best argument in the coming days and weeks.

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