Epic lays out its case as the injured party in dispute with Apple that it created

Posted:
in General Discussion edited April 13
Court documents filed by Epic Games claim that the company has been damaged by Apple's control over the App Store despite its own contractual violation, and calls out "arbitrary" review decisions.

Source: Epic Games
Source: Epic Games


In one of the final steps before the Apple versus Epic dispute enters trial in May, both Apple and the "Fortnite" developer has filed a "Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law" document with the Northern District of California. Epic's 365-page submission sets out the company's case against Apple regarding the App Store.

Epic's document, released publicly in a lightly redacted form, is divided into almost a dozen sections, each of which concentrates on a different element of the dispute. However, much of these sections recount the history of the dispute, and the specific arguments boil down to two elements.

Epic Games argues that Apple operates the App Store from business rather than genuine security reasons. And Epic maintains that it has been, and continues to be, damaged by how Apple operates its store.

iOS is not macOS

Central to the game developer's case is that Apple claims it has to operate the App Store as it does, specifically in order to keep iOS safe. Epic points out, at length, that Apple also says macOS is highly secure - and does not force developers to sell only through the Mac App Store.
Apple's choice to make the App Store the exclusive means for distribution of iOS apps was a business decision; it was not necessary to ensure the security of the iOS ecosystem.

Notably, Apple made a different business decision on the macOS operating system, which runs on Apple's Mac computers. On macOS, Apple allows developers to distribute their apps outside of Apple's own app store. macOS is a template of an open platform that Apple itself has held out to the world as secure - a place where users can download apps from the App Store or from other sources "worry free".

The security of iOS is derived primarily from the operating system itself and the hardware on which it runs. Indeed, iOS was modelled after macOS and inherited many of its core architectural features. But iOS offers even more robust operating system-based security mechanisms. Apple could easily implement security features to support open distribution on iOS without restricting app distribution to the App Store, just as it does with macOS.

Epic also takes aim at Apple's often repeated assertion that its App Review process is robust, and fair. The "Fortnite" developer says that this argument is pretextual, or dubious.
Apple points to its App Review process and asserts that there are security benefits that flow from funnelling all apps through the App Review process, but that is pretextual. Apple's App Review Process does little to keep iOS devices secure. It is cursory and has historically lagged behind the state of the art in terms of use of the automated tools needed for robust security checks. Many apps that should have been rejected under Apple's own guidelines have been approved, and apps that should have been approved have been rejected. Developers have faced an inefficient and opaque app review process riddled with arbitrary decisions and errors coupled with poor customer service.

Moreover, the manual portion of Apple's App Review process screens primarily for non-security issues-- including specifically for anti-competitive purposes. For example, Apple has used the App Review process to reject competitive threats even when the apps complied with Apple's then-prevailing guidelines. And Apple has used App Review to preference its own apps over competing third-party apps to the detriment of consumers and developers.

Epic cites internal Apple documents in which Eric Friedman, head of the company's Fraud Engineering Algorithms and Risk (FEAR) unit likened App Store defenses to a "bringing a plastic butter knife to a gunfight." Friedman in past correspondence said Apple's review process was "more like the pretty lady who greets you...at the Hawaiian airport than the drug-sniffing dog," reports the Financial Times.

Source: Epic Games
Source: Epic Games

Epic Games continues to be damaged by Apple

Other developers have reportedly found that being featured by Apple in its promotions such as "Game of the Day," can increase downloads by up to 800%. Epic Games, however, says such promotions "had limited marketing value," and also led to repeated leaks from Apple.

"Apple's marketing team created numerous problems for Epic," says the filing. It lists "multiple occasions," and singles out the launch of "Fortnite Chapter 2," reportedly the "largest update to the game since its original launch."
In October 2019, Mike Schmid, Apple's business development manager responsible for Fortnite, reached out to Mark Rein, Epic's Vice President, requesting assets in advance to support a promotion for Fortnite's upcoming launch of Chapter 2, the largest update to the game since its original launch.

Because Epic was planning a surprise release of Chapter 2, Schmid repeatedly assured Epic that he would take personal responsibility for ensuring that Apple did not leak the concept. Despite these assurances, Apple leaked Fortnite Chapter 2 artwork ahead of the planned launch, spoiling the surprise for Fortnite players on all platforms.

Epic also says that it had been forced to "spend considerable engineering time and resources" to keep up with "Apple's changing developer rules." For instance, it claims to have spent "more than a year" updating "Fortnite" to work under iOS 12 and Xcode 11.

Epic Games knew Apple might remove "Fortnite"

It's already been revealed that rather than being surprised by Apple's -- and Google's -- decision to remove "Fortnite" from the App Store, Epic Games planned it. The new court filing confirms that, but also details why the company believed the move was necessary.

"Epic understood that Apple might respond to the introduction of a competing payment solution by removing Fortnite from the App Store," it continues. "But Epic also viewed it as critical to demonstrate through public action that competition for payment solutions could exist on iOS, and that there would be strong demand from consumers for such competing options."

In essence, then, Epic Games intentionally implemented as much of the the store-within-a-store idea it had failed to persuade Apple to adopt.

Unreal Engine is developed by Epic Games, but used by countless games and even TV companies
Unreal Engine is developed by Epic Games, but used by countless games and even TV companies


The court document suggests that Epic Games may have been more surprised at Apple's move to close all of its developer accounts. Until a federal judge prevented Apple from doing so, it had reportedly planned to also remove Unreal Engine, the platform made by Epic Games but used by countless other developers.

"The loss of Unreal Engine's ability to support these important platforms would cause irreparable harm to Epic's product offerings, as many developers would select a competing engine for their new projects or for the next versions of their games," says the filing. "Third-party developers who rely on Epic's engine and support would be in jeopardy of losing the long-term support of Epic and its Unreal Engine tools for use in connection with Apple devices."

Epic Games, Inc, versus Apple, Inc, goes to jury trial in front of Judge Yvonne Gonzales Rogers, on May 3. Judge Rogers has limited in-person attendance because of coronavirus concerns.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    I can’t wait to run fortnight on the new epicPhone, but I do want to pay using Apple’s payment system. What a great idea then epic could set whatever rules it wants
    CuJoYYCaderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 8
    genovellegenovelle Posts: 1,089member
    Court documents filed by Epic Games claim that the company has been damaged by Apple's control over the App Store despite its own contractual violation, and calls out "arbitrary" review decisions.
    I love that they say they were not surprised about being removed. As well they knew because they new the agreement they signed and that they were violating the terms of that contract. It was clearly a part of their plan from day one. They had already spent weeks developing a marketing plan including producing a commercial that was released the next day. That was not a spontaneous occurrence. 
    edited April 8 hammeroftruthCuJoYYCBeatswatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    So Epic was harmed by not having Apple sign an NDA about chapter 2. Why did they if there was even a slight risk of a leak?

    Epic was harmed by Apple by agreeing to the terms of their iOS developer contract even though they knew MacOS did not have an exclusivity to the Mac App Store. 

    Epic was harmed after they violated their agreement with Apple and install their own payment system into their app and then got removed for it. 

    Epic was harmed when after violating their agreement with Apple in an intentionally malicious manner, Apple proceeded to close all of their developer accounts, which is not unusual when one party to a contract decides to violate the terms and the other decides to cease all business with the other party. 

    Epic is full of shit. 
    jeffzachariasJinTechBeatsbshankaderutterwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    BeatsBeats Posts: 1,929member
    “Irreparable harm”



    I like how they (Sweeney?) use this every time they mention their own fu** up.


    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
    davidwdavidw Posts: 1,134member

    iOS is not macOS

    Central to the game developer's case is that Apple claims it has to operate the App Store as it does, specifically in order to keep iOS safe. Epic points out, at length, that Apple also says macOS is highly secure - and does not force developers to sell only through the Mac App Store.
    Apple's choice to make the App Store the exclusive means for distribution of iOS apps was a business decision; it was not necessary to ensure the security of the iOS ecosystem.

    Notably, Apple made a different business decision on the macOS operating system, which runs on Apple's Mac computers. On macOS, Apple allows developers to distribute their apps outside of Apple's own app store. macOS is a template of an open platform that Apple itself has held out to the world as secure - a place where users can download apps from the App Store or from other sources "worry free".

    The security of iOS is derived primarily from the operating system itself and the hardware on which it runs. Indeed, iOS was modelled after macOS and inherited many of its core architectural features. But iOS offers even more robust operating system-based security mechanisms. Apple could easily implement security features to support open distribution on iOS without restricting app distribution to the App Store, just as it does with macOS.


    Apple has always allowed developers to distribute their software outside of Apple own Mac App Store. How in the name of Hell did Epic think Mac users got their software, before there was an App Store in OS X in 2010? The decision Apple made wasn't whether to allow developers to distribute their apps outside of the Mac App Store. The decision made was to keep on allowing developers distribute their software outside the Mac App Store. 

    With iOS, the Apple App Store came 1 1/2 year after iOS in 2007. There was never a way for developers to distribute their apps for the 1st generation iPhone before the Apple App Store because iOS at the time did not support third party native apps. So the decision made wasn't whether to not allow developers to distribute their apps outside of Apple App Store. The decision made was to keep on not allowing developers to distribute their apps outside of the Apple App Store.

    Mac users has always been able to get their software outside the Mac App Store and iOS users has never been able to get their apps outside the Apple App Store. This pre-dates the introduction of the app stores on both platforms. Apple decisions with the introduction of their Apple App Stores and Mac App Store was the same ..... to not change of any of this.       

    No matter how highly secure OS X (MacOS) is, iOS is even more secure. And it has a lot to do with iOS users not being able to purposely or inadvertently, install software from anywhere else, except from the Apple App Store. Not because of any core architectural features built into the OS.
    tenthousandthingsbshankwatto_cobrahammeroftruth
  • Reply 6 of 8
    DaRevDaRev Posts: 23member
    Apple should win, and if they do they should pull the Unreal Developer account and Epic should be forced to pay the developers reparations for putting their businesses at risk.
    Beatsbshankaderutterwatto_cobrahammeroftruthDetnator
  • Reply 7 of 8
    Their argument seems to boil down to “We’re special.” 

    The judge is looking for relevance and clarity, for specific antitrust issues that can be adjudicated. This submission is all over the place and it’s just another attempt to muddy the waters. It’s hard for me to see how this sits well with the judge. It’s like Epic thinks it is heroically positioned at the nexus of all antitrust issues surrounding Apple, but the reality is that this case only touches on a specific subset of that, where you have a smaller platform (Epic) within a larger platform (Apple). Epic wants you to believe they represent all developers, but they don’t. They’re an anomaly. They are the exception, not the rule.

    They’re basically a gambling platform — the llama is a loot box — and I do think Apple should probably treat such things differently than other types of apps. Be careful what you wish for! Epic is dreaming if they think this case will somehow break Apple’s larger business model. 
    edited April 8 Beatsaderutterwatto_cobrahammeroftruth
  • Reply 8 of 8
    icoco3icoco3 Posts: 1,467member
    This part below shows that Epic was even willing to harm its own customers who may have been happy with their App Store relations just to forward its own agenda...

    Whether or not Apple would have been justified to ban the Unreal Engine, it still brought a lot of other smaller developers into the fight without their consent.  That alone I find extremely selfish and arrogant on Epics part... 

    ...
    The court document suggests that Epic Games may have been more surprised at Apple's move to close all of its developer accounts. Until a federal judge prevented Apple from doing so, it had reportedly planned to also remove Unreal Engine, the platform made by Epic Games but used by countless other developers.

    "The loss of Unreal Engine's ability to support these important platforms would cause irreparable harm to Epic's product offerings, as many developers would select a competing engine for their new projects or for the next versions of their games," says the filing. "Third-party developers who rely on Epic's engine and support would be in jeopardy of losing the long-term support of Epic and its Unreal Engine tools for use in connection with Apple devices."
    ...
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