Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
It’s been just over a week since Fortnite developer Epic Games initiated an unprecedented antitrust legal fight with Apple over its App Store rules, and the lawsuit is shedding new light on how the companies came into conflict.
Today, Apple entered into evidence a series of emails from Epic CEO Tim Sweeney, in which he asked top Apple executives to exempt Fortnite from its standard 30 percent cut and to allow Epic to offer its own mobile app store.
Beginning in June, the emails show extensive discussions between Sweeney and Apple before Epic took action to incorporate an alternate payment mechanism into the Fortnite app, which resulted in it being ejected from the App Store last week. The emails show Sweeney lobbying Apple for the power to include this option months in advance, and also requesting Apple extend this courtesy to all iOS developers. Sweeney was effectively asking if Apple would restructure the App Store and iOS as we know it, likely suspecting Apple would not entertain the request in the slightest
“If Epic were allowed to provide these options to iOS device users, consumers would have an opportunity to pay less for digital products and developers would earn more from their sales,” Sweeney wrote in June. “We hope that Apple will also make these options equally available to all iOS developers in order to make software sales and distribution on the iOS platform as open and competitive as it is on personal computers.”
What follows is a staggering series of escalations between Sweeney and Apple’s executive and legal teams. The result is in an email from Sweeney sent at 5:08AM ET on August 13th — the day of the eventual removal of Fortnite from the App Store — in which the Epic chief executive tells Apple CEO Tim Cook and fellow executives Phil Schiller, Craig Federighi, and Matt Fischer that Epic will “no longer adhere to Apple’s payment processing restrictions.”
Sweeney goes on to warn Apple of the forthcoming legal battle. “If Apple chooses instead to take punitive action by blocking consumer access to Fortnite or forthcoming updates,” he says in the final email, “then Epic will, regrettably, be in conflict with Apple on a multitude of fronts – creative, technical, business, and legal – for so long as it takes to bring about change, if necessary for many years.”
Read the full back-and-forth between Apple and Epic below: