It all started in August 2020, when Epic Games (a video game and software company that is behind the game Fortnite) updated the Fortnite app to allow users to bypass the Apple in-app purchasing system (which takes 30% as a fee) to buy Fortnite ‘VBucks’ directly from Epic, rather than through Apple. This move, however, is against App Store rules, and Apple removed the app for the violation. When this happened, Epic sued Apple.
Epic claimed, “Apple unlawfully maintains its monopoly power in the iOS App Distribution Market through the anti-competitive acts”.
When did the trial start?
The trial began in May 2021, and ran for three weeks, where a range of aspects were covered including whether apps such as Minecraft and Roblox should be defined as “games” or “metaverses” (this is an explainer for another time), cloud gaming services, and third-party purchasing systems mentioned above.
What was the decision?
The first ruling was made last week by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. Apple won nine of 10 counts but was found to engage in anti-competitive conduct under California law, with the court ruling Apple is breaking the law by forcing people to pay for apps and in-app items through the App Store (where it usually takes the 30% fee). Apple is now required to allow all apps to direct users to payment options beyond those offered by Apple.
Separately, Judge Gonzalez Rogers also ruled that Epic should pay damages to Apple for violating rules around its in-app purchasing system. As a result, Epic is required to pay 30 percent of all revenue collected through the system since it was implemented, back to Apple. This sum roughly sits at US$3.5 million.
Epic filed an appeal to the ruling, calling on a higher court to reexamine the case and overturn the judge’s ruling. Apple are yet to confirm whether they will appeal.