The upcoming legal clash between Apple and Epic Games has mostly featured a competition by Epic to secure mind share, painting the company in general and Fortnite in specific as victims of Apple’s overbearing policies through parody ads and a petty competition. Some recently released information as part of a court filing from Apple might damage some of that narrative weaving, however, as it features a June email from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney where he asks Apple to allow the company to create competing payment options or a competing Epic Games store app to circumvent Apple’s payment policies:
“Because of restrictions imposed by Apple, Epic is unable to provide consumers with certain features in our iOS apps. We would like to offer consumers the following features:
1) Competing payment processing options other than Apple payments, without Apple’s fees, in Fortnite and other Epic Games software distributed through the iOS App Store;
2) A competing Epic Games Store app available through the iOS App Store and through direct installation that has equal access to underlying operating system features for software installation and update as the iOS App Store itself has, including the ability to install and update software as seamlessly as the iOS App Store experience.”
Apple responded with a six-page email that called in to question Epic’s ability to maintain its own storefront with the “same rigorous standards of privacy, security, and content as Apple” and directly refused the request to circumvent Apple’s payment policies while still enjoying the benefits of the App Store platform.
“The App Store is not simply a marketplace — it is part of a larger bundle of tools, technologies and services that Apple makes available to developers to develop and create great applications for iPhone, iPad and other Apple products. We know Epic knows this. Epic has been a major beneficiary of this investment and support. Epic has made great use of Apple-provided tools, such as TestFlight, VOIP, Stickers, iCloud document storage, ARKit, Messages Extension, ReplayKit, and Push Notifications.”
When the email first came to light, Epic came under fire for allegedly asking for special privileges, but Tim Sweeney immediately defended the request on Twitter, pointing to a portion of the email that requests that the same options to circumvent Apple payment policies be offered to all developers, not just Epic Games.
"We hope that Apple will reflect on its platform restrictions and begin to make historic changes that bring to the world's billion iOS consumers the rights and freedoms enjoyed on the world's leading open computing platforms including Windows and macOS." pic.twitter.com/cRJRO8dQbG
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 21, 2020
Either way, it’s not exactly making either company look good.