Apple and Epic Games Spar Over Returning Fortnite to the App Store
But by taking on Apple so directly and publicly, Epic â a 29-year-old privately held company worth $17.3 billion and based in Cary, N.C. â may be in for the fight of its life. Apple has a market capitalization of nearly $2 trillion and almost unlimited resources. Last month, it cut off its support for Epicâs Unreal Engine, a software development tool that thousands of developers use. That took the smaller company by surprise.
âWe recognized the theoretical possibility in advance, but thought it would be so foolish ofâ Apple to cut off Unreal Engine, Tim Sweeney, Epicâs founder and chief executive, said in an interview last week.
In court on Monday, Judge Gonzalez Rogers sharply criticized Epicâs decision last month to break with Appleâs payment rules. âThere are plenty of people in the public who consider you guys heroes for what you did, but itâs still not honest,â she said.
Epic argued that Fortniteâs removal from the App Store had caused it irreparable harm. But Judge Gonzales Rogers noted that Epicâs publicity campaign around the fight, including a parody video of Appleâs famous â1984â ad and a hashtag, #FreeFortnite, had probably increased good will toward the company.
Epicâs attorney, Katherine B. Forrest, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, defended the publicity campaign.
âWhen you are taking on the biggest company in the world and you know itâs going to retaliate, you donât lie down in the street and die,â she said. âYou plan very carefully.â
Apple said it would reinstate Fortnite to its App Store only if Epic complied with its rules.
âThey donât need this courtâs emergency help â they have the keys to free Fortnite right there in their pocket,â said Appleâs attorney, Theodore J. Boutrous Jr., a partner at Gibson Dunn.