The Epic/Apple legal drama continues as this week Apple’s filed its response to Epic’s request to force Fortnite back on the Appstore, and you may want to pick up some extra popcorn and maybe some sunscreen because Apple’s lawyers have decided to bring some burns to this filing: They assert that Fortnite is basically flagging in popularity and that this whole debacle is Epic’s attempt to “reinvigorate” interest in the game.
“For reasons having nothing to do with Epic’s claims against Apple, Fortnite’s popularity is on the wane. By July 2020, interest in Fortnite had decreased by nearly 70% as compared to October 2019.12 This lawsuit (and the front-page headlines it has generated) appears to be part of a marketing campaign designed to reinvigorate interest in Fortnite.”
By way of evidence, Apple offers links to Yahoo Finance and Google Trends. The Google Trends compares search interest in Fortnite to Minecraft and Pokemon (we’ve previously written about using and misusing these trends), while the Yahoo article is largely positive toward Fortnite’s success and only mentions an unlinked survey that purports to “show [that] the gap between Fortnite and other free-to-play battle royale titles is starting to narrow” – or was back when the survey was conducted (the article itself is from way back in April; the lawsuit, of course, began in August).
We could probably do better than those just by poking through SuperData and looking at the game’s revenues; MOP readers will recall that in February 2020, Epic Games actually disputed SuperData’s claim that Fortnite’s revenue had sunk to its lowest levels since 2017. Just a month later, however, Fortnite returned to SuperData’s top revenue rankings, where it’s stayed throughout the pandemic.
Apple also invokes the same verbiage it did in the “Trojan horse” countersuit, this time calling Epic’s actions “one of the most egregious acts of sabotage that Apple has experienced with any developer.” As Engadget notes, there’s not much new here compared to the allegations in the countersuit last week, and the next hearing isn’t for another week and change, but it’s certainly entertaining watching Apple’s publicity stunt in which it claims to be offended by Epic’s publicity stunt.