One Friday last August, Tim Sweeney, a billionaire game developer, sent an email to a contact at Microsoft: “You’ll enjoy the upcoming fireworks show.”
A week later, Mr. Sweeney’s game Fortnite delivered good news to players on iPhones: They would get a discount on items in the game if they completed the purchases outside Apple’s payment systems.
The change violated Apple’s rules and cut the iPhone maker off from collecting a commission on one of the world’s most popular games. Hours later, Apple kicked Fortnite off the App Store.
immediately sued Apple in federal court. It also began a public-relations broadside that was months in the works, complete with a trending #FreeFortnite hashtag and a parody of Apple’s iconic “1984” ad depicting Apple’s chief executive, Tim Cook, as an evil corporate overlord with an apple for a head.
up to 30 percent of their app sales to Apple.
An Epic victory would also invigorate the antitrust fight against Apple. Federal and state regulators are scrutinizing Apple’s control over the App Store, and on Friday, the European Union charged Apple with violating antitrust laws over its app rules and fees. Apple faces two other federal lawsuits about its App Store fees — one from developers and one from iPhone owners — that are seeking class-action status.
Beating Apple would also bode well for Epic’s upcoming trial against Google over the same issues on the app store for Android devices. That case is expected to go to trial this year and would be decided by the same federal judge, Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern District of California.