Epic Fires Back at Apple Again

Here's another new legal filing from Epic Games in the dispute between Epic and Apple about Fortnite royalties on the Apple App store (thanks The Verge). Among other things, Epic refutes Apple's recent assertion that interest in Fortnite is waning, saying Apple "cherry-picked" Google Trends data to make their case:
Finally, Apple’s papers contain a number of half-truths and outright falsities intended to paint Epic as a bad actor. Epic cannot catalogue them all here but notes a few examples below:

  1. Apple asserts that Epic eliminated IAP from Fortnite. This is false. Epic’s hotfix update offered IAP and Epic direct pay side-by-side. IAP remained available in Fortnite until Apple blocked IAP upon termination of Epic’s Team ID ’84 account. (Grant Reply ¶¶ 38-39.)
  2. Apple asserts that the August 13 release has security risks. That is false. Apple has not presented a shred of evidence that there is any security issue.
  3. An Apple declarant asserts that in 2018, Epic breached its agreement with Sony to launch cross-platform play without Sony’s consent. (Schmid ¶ 19.) That is false. Sony announced the availability of cross-platform play in September 2018 with Epic as one of the first participants in the new program. (Sweeney Reply ¶ 7, Ex. A.)
  4. Apple claims Epic brought this case to revive supposedly waning interest in Fortnite, alleging a 70% decline in “interest” between October 2019 and July 2020. (Opp’n 11.) But Apple cherry-picked Google Trends data concerning Google search volumes, misleadingly starting from a one-week spike that took place in October 2019 when Epic ran an in-game event that captured global attention. Fortnite users increased over that period. (Sweeney Reply ¶ 18.)
  5. Apple argues that “Epic’s own app marketplace charges users and developers a commission” just like IAP. (Opp’n 6 & n.7.) But the Epic Games Store offers developers the choice that Apple does not: they can use Epic’s payment processor for in-app purchases, or they can use another payment processor and pay Epic nothing. (Sweeney Reply ¶ 24.)
  6. Apple claims it placed Fortnite billboards in Times Square and LA Live, at its expense to the benefit of Epic. But the billboards actually promoted the availability of Marshmello’s concert playlist on Apple Music. (Sweeney Reply ¶¶ 20-22, Ex. B.)

Epic looks forward to demonstrating at trial the unlawfulness of Apple’s conduct. In the meantime, an injunction should issue.