Epic Games’ Bulldog Court Strategy Against Apple Is Backfiring — And That’s Bad News for Spotify

Apple Epic Games Fortnite
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Apple Epic Games Fortnite
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Photo Credit: Epic Games

A US judge has characterized Epic Games’ decision to violate the App Store policies as ‘dishonest.’

The whole imbroglio started when Epic Games released an update to Fortnite, allowing gamers to buy currency and bypassing Apple’s payment system. That’s a direct violation of the App Store developer policy that every developer agrees to when they sign up. Now, a federal judge seemingly agrees that Epic’s strategy was one of bullying, describing it as ‘dishonest.’

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers expressed her skepticism with Epic Games’ arguments. “You did something, you lied about it by omission, by not being forthcoming. That’s the security issue. That’s the security issue,” she told Epic’s lawyers. “There are a lot of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you guys did, but it’s still not honest.”

The three-hour hearing in the Epic Games vs. Apple case took place via Zoom. It also didn’t settle whether or not Fortnite will be allowed to return to the App Store. A decision on that issue will be made sometime this week. Judge Rogers did recommend that the case receive a jury trial in July of next year. That almost guarantees this battle will continue to carry out in court until then.

“It is important enough to understand what real people think,” the judge said. “Do these security issues concern people or not?” Judge Rogers said she believes Epic’s argument that Apple’s bundling of the App Store with in-app payments is not in itself a violation of antitrust.

“Walled gardens have existed for decades. Nintendo has had a walled garden. Sony has had a walled garden. Microsoft has had a walled garden. What Apple is doing is not much different; it’s hard to ignore the economics of the industry, which is what you’re asking me to do,” Judge Rogers told Epic Games’ lawyers.

Last week, Epic Games, Spotify, Tile, and Match Group banded together to form the Coalition for App Fairness.

This Who’s Who of subscription-based apps is encouraging smaller developers to join with them. Together, the group hopes that they can pressure Apple to reduce the ‘Apple Tax’ – the 30% revenue share that Apple takes from all in-app purchases.

The Coalition says it is designed to “defend the creators’ fundamental rights to build apps and do business directly with their customers.” One of the tenets the Coalition is arguing for is removing ‘walled gardens’ entirely from iOS devices. Android devices can sideload apps and, therefore, do not have this issue.