A date has been announced for the trial between Epic Games and Apple over a direct payment method in Fortnite, and the game’s removal from the App Store.
As we previously reported, Epic Games announced that the price of V-Bucks, Fornite‘s in-game currency that can be bought with real money, would permanently be 20% cheaper on all platforms. However, on Android and iOS, a new payment method was introduced.
Rather than buying the V-Bucks through Google Play and the App Store respectively, Epic Games launched the “Epic direct payment.” “When you choose to use Epic direct payments,” the announcement explains, “you save up to 20% as Epic passes along payment processing savings to you.”
This is due to Apple and Google collecting a 30% fee through all V-Bucks bought on their respective platforms. As such, the 20% drop has not been applied to purchases made through them. Epic Games state that “If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you.”
Shortly after this announcement, Apple and Google both removed Fortnite from the App Store and Google Play Stores respectively due to Epic Games violating their terms of service.
Epic Games issued legal action against both, citing that they had a monopoly over their stores on iOS and Android. Apple had allegedly threatened to terminate all of Epic Games’ App Store developer accounts and cut off tools for development on iOS and Mac.
Epic Games may have been expecting action from Apple however, having made a parody of Apple’s own 1984 commercial; appealing to their fans to support them. Further, the #FreeFortnite Cup was recently announced; acting as “the final days of the entire Fortnite community’s ability to play together.”
Apple later accused Epic Games CEO and founder Tim Sweeney of asking for exception from the App Store terms and conditions. Sweeney tweeted that Apple’s statement was misleading, and presented screenshots of the alleged emails. Microsoft also filed a statement of support, favoring Epic Games.
In late August, Apple terminated Epic Games’ App Store developer account. This means Epic Games will no longer be able to submit new apps, or updates to existing ones (such as the Infinity Blade games).
Epic would successfully win a restraining order that month, denying Apple removing Unreal Engine-based games from the App Store (thereby harming developers who used the engine for their games). Epic Games later filed an injunction asking that Apple be prohibited from “taking any adverse action against Epic.”
In early September of this year, Apple issued a counter-suit against Epic Games. Therein they asked for compensation and damages, claiming Epic Games’ actions were “little more than theft.” Both parties would later agree to a trial by judge, rather than a jury.
Now, court documents filled on October 6th (thanks GamesIndustry.biz) have revealed the trial will begin May 3rd, 2021. Even so, there are many steps prior to this for all parties to conduct, starting February 15th, 2021.
These include the end dates of discovery (obtaining and submitting evidence to be used), the compliance hearing (both attorneys inform the judge prior to this date if they are able produce the evidence and witnesses for the trial, or explain why they are not on the hearing date), pre-trial statements, and conferences.
Before even this, both parties must “jointly file one proposed agenda to inform the combined case management conference, even if it includes matters unique to a particular action,” by October 15th.
Prior to the case management conference on October 19th, both parties are also instructed to propose any recommendations for streamlining any issues that could arise during the briefing, trial, and “Related Matters.” These include any briefing on “certain legal issues” should be done in advance of the trial.
The document also states “The Court will determine closer to the trial date whether the bench trial will be conducted in person or virtually or some combination thereof.”
We will keep you informed as the trial progresses.