A U.S. District Court judge ruled that Apple can no longer force developers of IOS apps to use the App Store for in-app purchases. This ruling will change how Apple monetizes its platform, allowing app developers to use their own payment systems.
This lawsuit was brought by Epic Games and started over a dispute with the tech giant over its hit game Fortnite. Epic offered players who made purchases outside of the App Store a 20% discount, cutting Apple out of the 30% fee it would normally charge on App Store purchases, which led to the app being removed from the App Store. Epic quickly launched the #FreeFortnite campaign, which attempted to paint Apple as an unreasonable tech overlord, and filed the lawsuit shortly after.
Despite a seemingly big win, Epic was not happy with the results since the judge ruled against Epic on all other counts of the trial. This ruling concluded that Apple does not have a monopoly over mobile game purchases. It also ruled that Epic was in violation of its contract with Apple, forcing them to pay Apple over $3.5 million in lost revenue.
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, was displeased with the ruling and shared his opinions on social media. “Today’s ruling isn’t a win for developers or for consumers,” he said. “Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers.”
Today’s ruling isn't a win for developers or for consumers. Epic is fighting for fair competition among in-app payment methods and app stores for a billion consumers. https://t.co/cGTBxThnsP
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) September 10, 2021
Sweeney went on to say that Fortnite won’t return to the App Store unless “Epic can offer in-app payment in fair competition with Apple in-app payment,” meaning the game is not likely to make a comeback on IOS anytime soon.
Apple was happy with the results of the trial and put out a statement that they consider it a legal victory.
“Today the Court has affirmed what we’ve known all along: the App Store is not in violation of antitrust law,” the company said. “As the Court recognized ‘success is not illegal.’ Apple faces rigorous competition in every segment in which we do business, and we believe customers and developers choose us because our products and services are the best in the world. We remain committed to ensuring the App Store is a safe and trusted marketplace.”
This lawsuit sets a precedent that might have implications for companies that own other virtual storefronts, such as Google, which Epic has filed another lawsuit against this past July.
Epic Games has confirmed that it plans to appeal the decision, while Apple has not made a statement about a possible appeal.