Epic Games started planning antitrust lawsuit against Apple two years ago with ‘Project Liberty’

Ahead of its upcoming lawsuit against Epic Games, Apple today filed 500 pages of documents covering factual findings and conclusions of the law, which basically summarize the information exchanged between Apple and Epic, present relevant facts to the judge and advocate logical conclusions to be drawn when the law is applied to the case.

Apple sticks to many of the points of conversation it has debated since the beginning of its dispute with the Epic Games. The App Store has remained unchanged in terms of the general fee structure since its first launch in 2008, and although the policies have been updated, the development principles have remained the same.

Apple sees Epic’s challenge as an attack on its basic 13-year App Store business model. Apple claims that its rigorous application review guidelines provide consumers with security, privacy and reliability, for which its devices are also known, leading to significant benefits for end users and developers.

The 30 percent fee Apple charges is in line with fees charged by other app markets and software vendors, as shown in a study commissioned by Apple earlier this year, and Apple recently unveiled the Small Business Program to reduce developer fees on 15 percent earning less than a million dollars a year. Apple has entered a market where 30 percent commissions have already been accepted – it did not set that rate when the “App Store” was launched.

In response to claims that the “App Store” is anti-competitive because no other app stores are allowed on the iPhone, Apple points to competition in the device and game markets. There are other platforms that people can choose from, along with other gaming options, and web apps are supported on ‌iPhone‌ and iPad as alternatives to games already used by Microsoft and Google. Apple uses Epic’s main title, Fortnite, to illustrate its point.

Epic’s flagship Fortnite game illustrates a competitive landscape. Apple supports gaming transactions and multi-platform “multi-platform”. The same consumer can buy V-Bucks in the app on their iPhone (via browser) during the lunch break and on the console at home in the evening. Apple (unlike some competitors) allows you to play via “multiple wallets”, so in-game purchases – called V-Bucks in Fortnite – can be made on one device and used on another. In other words, an iOS user can buy V-Bucks on a computer and then use them (before removing Fortnite) in Fortnite on their “iPhone” or iPad – and Epic doesn’t owe Apple a penny.

Epic internal documents linked to “Project Liberty” suggest that Epic has been plotting against Apple and Google since 2008. Epic started Project Liberty when it recorded a decline in its average monthly active users and revenue, devising a strategy to pay a smaller commission while still taking the advantage of the “App Store” and the money that Apple has invested in the ecosystem.

Epic Games has hired lawyers and a PR firm as part of its plan to file a lawsuit against Apple, eventually paying out hundreds of thousands of dollars. Epic outlined its plan to approve Fortnite with hidden alternative payment options, which was then activated by an urgent correction, which led to the current dispute. Epic internal documents described the legal battle against Apple and Google as “fun!” and thinking about how to get Apple and Google to reconsider their fees without making “Epic Games” look like “bad guys.”

It was all part of a pre-planned media strategy called “Project Freedom.” Epic retained Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP and the public relations firm in 2019, and this lawsuit is the culmination of that effort. Epic seeks to portray Apple as a villain so he can revive interest in Fortnite. However, ironically, when Epic was launched from the iOS platform, it told players that they could continue to play on consoles, PCs and other devices – demonstrating the existence of competition and the absence of monopolies.

Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, confirmed Project Liberty in previous interviews and said Epic had been preparing a lawsuit against Apple for months, although Apple lawsuits provide new insight into the length of time Epic went to rope Apple and Google into antitrust. lawsuit.

Apple argues that the extension of the antitrust law is unjustified and that Epic’s market descriptions in the market are inaccurate because of other platforms the “App Store” competes with. Apple claims that Epic overestimates the profitability of the “App Store”, and that the arguments that the review process is inefficient are incorrect. Last year, Apple rejected 150,000 apps, and malware on iOS devices is almost unheard of compared to the large number of malicious apps found on PCs and Android devices.

Apple says it will fail Epic’s claim that the market is just iOS apps and that the relief Epic is seeking would be detrimental to consumers and developers as it would weaken the “App Store”. Apple also sees the “App Store” as an integrated feature of the “iPhone”, and in-app purchases as an integrated feature of the “App Store” that does not allow third-party payment options, which Epic strives for.

Basically, Epic is asking this court to impose alternative terms on Apple so that Epic can make more money. But Epic’s request would harm other developers and consumers, with the imposition of unprecedented obligations on Apple to open its proprietary systems and engineering to third parties.

The trial against Epic v. Apple is set to begin on May 3 and will end in the week of May 24. Both Epic and Apple will call high-profile witnesses, including Apple CEO Tim Cook, Apple counterpart Phil Schiller, head of Apple engineering. Craig Federighi and former iOS software chief Scott Forstall, who will testify on behalf of Apple.