Apple vs. Epic: Apple must review its payment system, Epic fined

It was one of the melodramas of last summer: while Epic Games decided to free itself from the hefty percentage levied by Apple on each transaction carried out in Fortnite, a lawsuit was opened to decide between the two giants. The verdict is finally in, and the time has come to take stock.

A small reminder of the facts: in August 2020, Epic decided to offer a direct payment system in its Battle Royale which never ceases to hit the mark, just to bypass the 30% share taken by Apple on each transaction made on one of its devices. In retaliation, Fortnite was removed from home online stores, and Google was withdrawn from the store a few days later. The financial stakes were such that the affair could obviously only end with a court decision, ” American style “, as the other would say. The judgment has just been rendered and spans nearly 185 pages. You might as well say that nothing is simple.

A fine and lessons

As is customary after a nuanced judgment, the two parties considered that the District Court of Northern California had ruled in their favor. On the legal level, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, responsible for deciding the case, ruled in favor of Apple on nine of the ten points to be examined. The manufacturer was thus not considered to be in a monopoly position on the mobile gaming market, and the Court considered that Epic had unilaterally violated the contract which bound it to Apple by going beyond the payment model put in place, and condemned the publisher was fined $ 12.1 million. It did not take more for the company to be triumphant in its communication, as reported by journalist Mark Gurman , present on site:

Today the court said what we all know: the App Store does not violate anti-monopoly laws. Apple faces tough competition in every sector of the market, and we believe consumers and developers choose our products because they are the best in the world. We remain committed to making the App Store a safe and trustworthy store where the rules are the same for everyone.

Apple press release

Despite this triumphalism which visibly swelled a few ankles, the Court still ruled that Apple’s methods violated the principles of local competition law, by preventing third parties from offering their own payment methods. As a result, the company will no longer be able to prevent alternative methods from being offered by third parties, a decision that should have repercussions well beyond the single case of Fortnite.

“We are making money”

Concretely, customers of the online store will now be able to use the solutions offered directly by publishers, and thus benefit from more advantageous prices, without Apple pocketing 30% of the amount. However, the favorable decision was not to the liking of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney , who wishes to be able to go further:

Fortnite will only return to the App Store when Epic can offer in-app payment, which can fairly compete with Apple’s method, saving our customers money. Thank you to those who took the time and made the effort to fight for fairness on digital platforms, and to the Court for promptly rendering a decision in such a complex case.

Tim Sweeney on Twitter

The case is far from over since Epic must also face the giant Google on the same legal basis, the trial is still scheduled to be held in 2021. In the meantime, Apple now has 90 days to implement the decision, and offer alternative payment methods. Will the manufacturer be forced to lower his commissions or will he prefer to appeal? It be continued in the next episode.

Following this court ruling, Apple’s action dropped nearly 4% in value to $ 149.

The case will not end there, since Epic announced late Monday afternoon its intention to appeal the decision, which postpones sine die the obligation for Apple to propose for the time being alternative payment solutions on all its media. 

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