This Friday, the legal battle between Apple and Epic Games took an unexpected turn. The judge in charge of the case in California ordered Apple to change the App Store rules to allow developers to use other forms of payment for microtransactions within apps, such as external websites.
Apple has up to 90 days to change the rules of the App Store to avoid an aggravated sentence — the deadline is December 9th. The company, on the other hand, has the right to appeal the decision to a higher court. The apple, according to Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, is:
“(…) permanently restricted and prohibited from preventing developers from including in their apps and shortcuts, external links or other mechanisms that direct customers to microtransaction platforms, in addition to in-app purchasing systems, and from communicating with customers by through contacts obtained voluntarily during account creation within the apps”.Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, California Court Judge.
Despite this, the Court found that Epic Games had previously breached its contract with Apple by implementing alternative payment methods in Fortnite. As a result, the Battle Royale developer was ordered to pay 30% of all revenue generated through the method until the game was removed from the store — approximately US$3.5 million (R$18.4 million).
Gonzalez Rogers believes that neither party made a compelling case for the App Store’s business relationship with developers and customers. The judge stated, “The relevant issue here is mobile game transactions, not games in general, nor Apple’s own internal operating systems concerning the store.”
Because neither company’s allegations were proven, the judge concluded that, while Apple may not be considered a monopolist under federal or state antitrust laws, the company is still “abusing anti-competitive practices in violation of California’s competition laws.”
Apple says it has won, and Epic CEO plans to appeal
The Verge reported that Apple had won the battle with the judge’s decision. The hearing that the App Store does not violate US antitrust laws was the most important part of the entire trial for Apple. The company then used the opportunity to complement its own store.
“Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which it does business, and we believe that customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. We will remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and reliable shopping platform.”Apple, to The Verge.
Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, on the other hand, was dissatisfied with the outcome of the process. He stated on Twitter that the judge’s decision was not a victory for game developers and consumers. The CEO remains committed to the fight and intends to file an appeal at upcoming hearings.
The legal battle between Apple and Epic began in 2020
For years, Epic Games and Apple have been at the forefront of debates over the App Store’s transaction fee. In essence, apple receives 30% of every dollar spent in the store.
Epic Games sees the tax as a monopolistic practice, while Apple sees it as a necessary operating cost. The developer attempted to circumvent the App Store system in August 2020 by including an alternative payment system in Fortnite. Apple responded by removing the game from its platform.
Epic Games sued not only Apple but also Google after their game was removed from the store. Since then, the lawsuits have revealed details about Fortnite’s earnings and how much the developer spent on distributing free games on the Epic Games Store.
Source: The Verge