The Apple versus Fortnite controversy is in court, and both parties face each other in the United States District Court of Northern California. Fortnite’s arguments against the Cupertino-based manufacturer’s decision on removing the popular first-person shooter include harsh criticism of royalty cuts from Apple, as Fortnite must pay thirty cents on the dollar for every in-app purchase.
Fortnite is a battle-royale first-person shooter where players play one another in different environments until only one man stands. The popular app just got banned from the Apple App Store as well as the Google Play Store. While the tech giants argue payment transparency and cybersecurity in a complex geopolitical tug-of-war between the United States government and the People’s Republic of China’s trade wars, gamers get caught in the middle.
Fortnite has 250 million players worldwide. These players can customize their looks via in-app purchases using the game’s digital currency called “V-Bucks,” to which they must pay a hefty 30% fee to Apple, an arrangement that the developers find unfair, and are willing to go to court for it.
Fortnite’s developers found a way for players to circumvent Apple’s 30% tax system, and the California company decided to shut down that operation. In defense of their gamers, Epic Games, the company that owns the successful first-person shooter put together a legal team that includes the former United States Assistant Attorney General of the antitrust division with experience in the field of data privacy.
Fortnite’s owner argument in court relies on the form Apple conducts business with software developers in the App Store. Fortnite developers’ representatives in court argue that the iOS App Distribution market is a monopoly. To bolster the outrageous claim, they claim that “the App Store is the sole means by which apps may be distributed to consumers in that market, and that the Cupertino-based software developer creates unfair conditions for competitors. And by doing so, they forbid iOS users’ ability from downloading other app stores or apps directly from websites.
The legal team accuses Apple of having no regulators in their iOS App Distribution Market, and that circumventing the 30% fee is their prerogative as it doesn’t pose a threat to their monopoly as they cannot provide iOS users with apps for which they have to design a compatible version with the Apple operative system.
The Complaint about Injunctive Relief portrays Epic Games —Fortnite’s puppetmaster— as a reliable company that forgoes the billion iOS user market they can tap into and work their software inside those devices in the same way they do it with the PC market, that’s Apple’s endgame in this complex court and real-world geopolitics drama that has millions of iOS gamers without access to Fortnite.
Fortnite is still available for PC and the Nintendo Switch, the Xbox One S, and PC, and that’s a significant market in terms of tapping into users’ perceptions and opinions.