Apple-Fortnite battle heats up with response to lawsuit

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  • Apple has now officially responded to the lawsuit against Epic Games, a first for the Apple-Fortnite cartel saga.
  • In response, Apple tries to compare Epic to shoplifters who walk out of an Apple retail store with unpaid products.
  • Apple is also trying to shift the blame by saying that Epic Games caused this problem itself.

Today the Battle Royale between Apple and Epic Games has taken a step up. Apple issued a formal response to Epic Games' lawsuit filed last week alleging Apple has monopoly control of its app store (via Axios).

The answer is very confusing as it makes bizarre comparisons between Epic and shoplifting. It also tries to blame Epic for its rebellion against Apple's policies, which is strange in an antitrust lawsuit.

The battle between Apple and Fortnite: Epic shoplifters?

On file, Apple has the following to say about Epic's attempt to bypass Apple's 30% cut on all in-app transactions:

If Developers Can Avoid Digital Checkout, is the same as leaving an Apple retail store without paying for stolen products: Apple doesn't get paid.

This is a tough comparison, but it doesn't make any sense. Epic sells its own product (Fortnite's in-app currency known as V-Bucks) through an app it creates, so it can't actually "steal" its own goods from this hypothetical Apple store.

A. A more appropriate comparison would be a shopping mall. Imagine if Apple owned a mall – that is, a large building that housed many different retailers – and Epic Games was a store in that mall. This mall is the only one – there are no other malls. What happens here is akin to Epic Games doing business as usual but refusing to pay the rent because they think the fees are artificially high as Apple knows there is no other place. Sure, that's not a good thing (Epic refuses to pay rent), but this is way, much different from shoplifting.

Apple tries to shift the blame

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In other words, Epic broke the rules it thinks is unfair, and Apple booted it, and now Epic has literally nowhere else to go. Epic then asks for the option to continue its business during the lawsuit, and Apple refuses. Isn't that the definition of a monopolistic company? All of Epic's iOS business is handled by Apple on its own.

Apple seems to be ignoring the idea that if Epic had another platform for delivering Fortnite to iPhone users, it wouldn't have to file a lawsuit. Labeling the suit as an issue "exclusively made by Epic itself" is a weak claim that is likely to be torn apart if this leads to a lawsuit.

Is the App Store like Steam or the Play Store?

Finally, Apple also argues that Epic has no antitrust lawsuit against it as there are other ways that users can buy mobile games. Apple refers to the Google Play Store as an example and then also refers to Steam. These other two platforms are making similar cuts on products sold through their respective stores.

Apple doesn't see however that developers who don't want to sell through Steam or the Play Store can sell many other stores. Or you could just sell it yourself and keep all profits. You can do this on PCs and Android devices, but not at all on the iPhone. Once again, in this official act, Apple is making very weak claims that could easily be torn apart in a legal process.

Granted, Epic Games is also suing Google, accusing it of also having a monopoly. This is a much weaker case than this one against Apple, although it is possible that the outcome of this Apple case could have a dramatic impact on Google's Play Store policies.

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