The fight between Epic and Apple seems to be far from over. Epic recently asked Apple to restore Fortnite to the App Store, and the filings reveal Apple’s accusation. The Cupertino company argues that Epic’s damages are “entirely self-inflicted,” and Fortnite will be allowed back on App Store once the in-app direct payment system is removed.
The opposition brief runs as long as 37-pages. It accuses Epic of “starting a fire and poured gasoline on it, and now asks this Court for emergency assistance in putting it out.” Furthermore, the brief adds Epic can reverse its actions by simply “adhering to the contractual terms.”
Since the beginning, Apple is clear on one thing. It will allow Fortnite on App Store once it follows the guidelines. Apple adds that Epic could have avoided “further harm involving both Fortnite and Unreal Engine” with a press of a button. Furthermore, the company accuses Apple of “holding its own customer’s hostage to gain leverage in a business dispute.”
Apple argues that it offers a service by maintaining the App Store, and Epic has broken the contract by not following the rule. Interestingly, the opposition brief claims the legal battle was part of Epic’s plan to gain publicity.
For reasons having nothing to do with Epic’s claims against Apple, Fortnite’s popularity is on the wane. By July 2020, interest in Fortnite had decreased by nearly 70% as compared to October 2019. This lawsuit (and the front-page headlines it has generated) appears to be part of a marketing campaign designed to reinvigorate interest in Fortnite.
Apple says only 10 percent of Fortnite consumers play the game regularly on iPhone. This is to counter the claim that Epic is suffering irreparable harm. Apple also claims Epic standoff is nothing more than a “pre-planned media blitz.”
If Epic were truly concerned that it would suffer reputational injury from this dispute, it would not be engaging in these elaborate efforts to publicize it. From all appearances (including the #freefortnite campaign), Epic thinks its conduct here will engender goodwill, boost its reputation, and drive users to Fortnite, not the opposite. That is not harmful to Apple.