The Judge in the Epic Games vs. Apple lawsuit has dismissed two of Apple’s claims, including their claim of Epic Games committing theft.
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 announced.
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. That trial is set for May 3rd, 2021.
Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers gave a preliminary injunction in October. Apple did not have to reinstate Fortnite on the App store, but they had a restraining order preventing them from revoking developer tools from “Epic Affiliates;” such as those using the Unreal Engine for their game.
Now, Bloomberg reports that Judge Gonzales Rogers has dismissed two of Apple’s claims at a hearing on November 10th. Apple had accused Epic Games of theft, and asked for monetary damages beyond that of a breach of contract.
Judge Gonzales Rogers dismissed Apple’s claim of theft. “This is a high-stakes breach of contract case and an antitrust case and that’s all in my view,” she told lawyers. She then told Apple lawyer Anna Casey “You can’t just say it’s independently wrongful. You actually have to have facts.”
Apple told Bloomberg that it disagreed with the judges’ decision, but were confident Epic Games had breached their contract.
“Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines that apply equally to every developer who sells digital goods and services. Their reckless behavior made pawns of customers, and we look forward to making it right for them in court next May.”
In earlier news, Fortnite may be able to sneak back onto Apple devices via reports that NVidia GeForce Now cloud gaming will allow it to be played through iOS web browser Safari.