Big quote: "To be clear, Epic does not seek to force Apple to provide distribution and processing services for free, nor does Epic seek to enjoy Apple’s services without paying for them. What Epic wants is the freedom not to use Apple’s App Store or IAP, and instead to use and offer competing services," says Epic in its preliminary injunction filing from Friday.
In the latest development between Epic Games and Apple, Epic is once again petitioning the courts to allow Fortnite to return to the iOS App Store. Epic has previously sought a similar injunction, but so far, the courts have only elected to spare Epic's Unreal Engine from Apple's retaliation. Epic's Unreal Engine boasts a broad ecosystem, and there would be too much collateral damage should it be caught up in the legal battle playing out between Epic and Apple.
While the Unreal Engine will seemingly be shielded from the fallout, a certain amount of damage may have already been done. Epic Games has previously said developers were leaving the Unreal Engine platform due it is uncertain future within Apple's walled garden. This is also a point brought up in Epic's injunction filing, saying both Epic and its Unreal Engine stand to suffer irreparable harm without a legal intervention.
"Going forward, developers are questioning whether Unreal Engine would remain a viable platform on which to build their applications. There is no way to estimate the loss to Epic from an industry-wide shift away from Unreal Engine. Only a preliminary injunction can bring the level of certainty that developers need, and that Epic therefore needs to protect its business," says Epic.
Today we asked the Court to stop Apple’s retaliation against Epic for daring to challenge its unlawful restrictions while our antitrust case proceeds. This is a necessary step to free consumers and developers from Apple’s costly, anti-competitive control. https://t.co/r2XxhitjMp— Epic Games Newsroom (@EpicNewsroom) September 5, 2020
Epic declares that it is aptly suited to challenge Apple in the markets of app distribution and in-app payment processing, and believes that its case is likely to succeed based on the merits that Apple's actions have violated the Sherman Antitrust Act. Though, Epic maintains it is not immune to damage, and seeks injunctive relief while confronting Apple.
"To enable Epic to carry out this challenge without suffering irreparable harm from Apple’s retaliation in the interim, Epic respectfully requests that the Court grant its motion for a preliminary injunction to stop Apple from retaliating further and to undo Apple’s retaliation to date," says Epic.
However, Epic is also concerned about the long-term health of Fortnite in the interim, should its absence from the iOS App Store persist, hence why it's asking courts to reverse Apple's actions thus far.
"Daily active users on iOS have declined by over 60% since Fortnite’s removal from the App Store. And removal already has resulted in a loss of goodwill and irreparable damage to Epic’s reputation. The continued loss of Fortnite as a gathering place for users on all platforms will lead Epic’s customers to defect. Epic may never see these users again," explains Epic.
Epic's battle with Apple started back in August, when Epic rolled out its own in-app payment processing to circumvent both Apple and Google's 30% cut on in-game purchases. Apple responded in kind by booting Fortnite from the iOS App Store, and Google soon followed suit and kicked Fortnite from the Play Store. Epic has since been locked in legal battles with both companies, and it's far from over.
Meanwhile, the European Commission currently has an ongoing antitrust investigation involving Apple's App Store practices.