Epic sought a special deal for Fortnite before it started its App Store protest

Epic Games is waging battle against Apple and the App Store right now, but it turns out it tried to get preferential treatment first.

In a fresh legal filing from Apple, reported by CNBC, it turns out Epic Games tried to earn a special deal for Fortnite before it opted to go down its current path. The legal filing from Apple is the direct response to Epic’s own lawsuit against the company, which it filed almost immediately after Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store last week.

Apple’s motion in the court is saying Epic is actually the company that is guilty of anti-competitive behavior. And, interestingly, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney had said earlier this month that he was not seeking “a special deal”, but rather for “open platforms” and general “policy changes”. However, emails shared by Apple’s Phil Schiller indicates Sweeney & Co. were indeed looking for a special deal before it decided to wage are against Apple.

Here’s Sweeney’s tweet from last week:

As for the revelation made by Schiller:

On June 30, 2020, Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney wrote my colleagues and me an email asking for a ‘side letter’ from Apple that would create a special deal for only Epic that would fundamentally change the way in which Epic offers apps on Apple’s iOS platform.

According to Schiller, Sweeney did ask Apple first if it could implement the direct payment option within the Fortnite iOS app. That would obviously bypass the App Store rules, but it wouldn’t matter if Sweeney got permission from Apple first. The company didn’t agree, obviously, and so Apple pulled the game.

Here’s more from Schiller:

Because of restrictions imposed by Apple, Epic is unable to provide consumers with certain features in our iOS apps,” Sweeney wrote in the June 30 email titled “Consumer Choice & Competition” produced by Apple. It was sent to Apple CEO Tim Cook as well as Schiller and other top Apple executives.

Apple would need to provide a side letter or alter its contracts and standards documents to remove such restrictions to allow Epic to provide a competing app store and competing payment processing option to iOS customers,” it continued, although the letter did note that “we hope that Apple will also make these options equally available to all iOS developers.

Apple also notes in its legal filing that Epic is looking for “emergency relief” right now, but Epic’s in this position because it decided to put itself in this position. Apple also reiterates that if Epic were to remove the direct payment option within Fortnite, Apple would be more than happy to bring the game back into the App Store.

You can read Apple’s full legal filing right here.

The story so far

I’m just going to break this down as quickly as possible. So, here’s a timeline:

August 13, 2020

  • Epic Games updates Fortnite on the server-side, bypassing the App Store review process. It adds a direct payment option, breaking another rule in the process.
  • Apple removes Fortnite from the App Store due to Epic Games breaking the App Store rules.
  • Epic Games launches a media blitz, and it also sues Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
  • Epic launches “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite”, a parody video of Apple’s original “1984” ad:

  • Google removes Fortnite from the Play Store, as Epic Games also violated the Play Store’s rules.
  • Epic sues Google, too.
  • Spotify weighs in! Unsurprisingly, it applauds Epic Games for its decision to stand up against Apple.

August 14, 2020

  • Facebook says Apple’s App Store fees make it impossible to help small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.

August 17, 2020

  • Apple threatens to revoke Epic Games’ developer accounts for not only iOS, but also macOS. That cut-off is set to take place on Friday, August 28, 2020.

August 18, 2020

August 20, 2020

  • The Wall Street Journal and other news publications sign an open letter asking for Apple to reduce its App Store fees down to a standard 15%.

August 21, 2020

  • Epic Games promotes the #FreeFortnite Cup, or tournament, that is meant to bring even more attention against Apple, and is promoting “anti-Apple” prizes.

What do you make of all this? Which company is in the right, do you think? Are you going to abandon iOS so you can play Fortnite on your phone and/or tablet?