Apple fought back in its legal battle with Fortnite developer Epic Games on Tuesday, filing a response and counterclaim that the game company had violated its contract with Apple and was seeking damages.
“The Epic Games lawsuit is nothing more than a fundamental disagreement over money,” Apple said in a filing in the District Court for the Northern District of California. “Although it describes itself as the Robin Hood of the modern corporation, it is actually a multi-billion dollar business that just wants to take advantage of the enormous value that the Apple Mall brings without paying anything.”
The dispute between Apple and Epic Games began on August 13, when Epic Games released a new version of Fortress Nights on the Apple App Store that bypassed the App Store and offered a way for users to pay in-game without Apple taking a 30% cut.
Apple later removed the app from its app store, and Epic Games sued Apple later that day. On August 28, Apple suspended the developer account for Epic Games, which will prevent the company from developing new apps or updating Fortress Nights on the Apple platform.
Apple is now asking a court to hold Epic Games liable for breach of contract and other charges, demanding the return of all money Fort Night collected through its payment system, and seeking a permanent injunction banning it from external payment mechanisms in all its apps, including Fort Night. Apple said in the filing that Epic Games earned more than $600 million from the App Store.
Apple’s response suggests it was caught off guard by Epic Games. Interestingly, back in April 2020, Epic Games executives “recognized and thanked Apple for supporting and promoting the Fortnite event.”
Unbeknownst to Apple, Epic Games has been recruiting an army of lawyers, publicists and technicians to plan this raid on the Mall. Just after 2am on August 13, the same day that Epic Games first released a new version of Fortress Night, Epic Games CEO Sweeney sent another email to apple executives, announcing that Epic Games would no longer be subject to Apple’s payment processing restrictions. ‘”
Epic Games argues that Apple has suppressed free-market competition and is seeking a preliminary injunction to reinstate Fortress Night’s rights to the app store and restore its developer accounts. The hearing is now scheduled for late September, though the date could change.