Epic Games 'Spent Months' Preparing Lawsuit Against Apple, Codenamed 'Project Liberty'

In a wide-ranging interview with CNN Business, Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games, says that his company spent months preparing its lawsuit against Apple, which is internally codenamed "Project Liberty."

fortnite apple featured

Epic launched an all-out assault against Apple after it removed Fortnite from the App Store in August after the app implemented a direct payment method for in-app purchases. App Store policy requires all apps to use its own system for in-app purchases which gives Apple a 30% commission for all purchases made. Epic's refusal to comply with the policy resulted in the app getting kicked from the platform.

Sweeney says in his interview that Epic "spent months" developing and preparing its lawsuit against Apple, which was notably launched and announced publicly within hours of Fortnite's removal from the ‌App Store‌.

Internally, Epic calls the lawsuit "Project Liberty," clearly echoing the idea that the lawsuit is meant to open up Apple's platforms further for smaller developers, hence providing them "liberty". Despite the focus of the lawsuit being the ‌App Store‌'s 30% commission policy, Sweeney says it actually comes down to the idea that he believes open platforms are "the key to free markets and the future of computing".

Developers have been questioning whether the 30% commission is a fair price for developers to pay back to Apple, given, for example, that ‌Epic Games‌ made $1.3 billion from Fortnite in-game purchases in 2020.

‌Epic Games‌ had a valuation of $17.3 billion at the end of last year, and on the financial front, Sweeney says Epic has "the financial independence" to conduct its suit against Apple and Google, largely thanks to the fact that ‌Epic Games‌ is not a publicly listed company.

When pressed for specifics on how much its lawsuit against Apple was costing Epic, Sweeney refused to reply, simply saying it is consuming "lots and lots" of time from company leadership. It's clear, however, that with millions of Apple users unable to play Fortnite on their devices, the company is likely experiencing some financial struggle given iOS users have generated more than $1.2 billion in revenue for Epic since it launched on the platform, according to Sensor Tower data cited by CNN Business.

All in all, however, Sweeney says the struggles are worth it due to the fear that the future of platforms such as the ‌App Store‌ will be completely dominated by platform owners like Apple, and have no other developers on them.

"[The companies] will just do that industry by industry and app category by app category until they've gobbled up everything that matters. And who will be left?" said Sweeney. "A million indie developers who collectively together make a small percentage of revenues on the app store because these businesses are too small to be attractive to steal."

Lastly, Sweeney addresses controversial comments he made in November in which he stated that the fight for civil rights and Epic's fight for platform "liberty" are similar. The comments caused widespread backlash, and in response, Sweeney says he believes "it's perfectly healthy" to draw similarities between "vital causes in the history of the world" and the fight on app platforms.

"The point is if you really want to make a difference, you have to buck the system," Sweeney said in response to the criticism. "I think there's a lot we can learn from any of the past struggles in humanity and I think it's perfectly healthy to apply struggles from vital causes in the history of the world to struggles over smaller issues like software platforms."

Most recently, ‌Epic Games‌ filed a complaint against Apple in the UK, claiming that Apple's removal of Fortnite from the ‌App Store‌ was "unlawful" and seeking for the app to be reinstated. The UK complaint followed in the footsteps of Epic's agreements in the United State and Australia. In all countries, Epic says it's not asking for damages from Apple and is simply seeking "fair access and competition that will benefit all consumers". Both companies are preparing to face off in court in July of this year.

Top Rated Comments

Goldfrapp Avatar
13 months ago
Seriously, Epic, stop distracting Apple from building iPhone 13 with Touch ID and the 16" M1 MacBook Pro without Touch Bar.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
GizmoDVD Avatar
13 months ago
Bro - you're gonna lose hard. You've already lost tens of millions of dollars and many of those users won't come back if this ever returns to iOS.

What a great case study of a company that was once known as EPIC
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
robinp Avatar
13 months ago
I don’t believe this idea that they are doing it for a greater good; to help small developers. Epic are by any normal definition, a very large company. The App Store has helped many small developers to go independent and make a living. In Epic’s world view, they would dominate by having one of the many large app stores and being the gate keeper instead of Apple. I don’t see how that’s is any kind of improvement for small developers.
Score: 22 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Stella Avatar
13 months ago
It's in Epic's interest to be as prepared as possible. This is a non - story.

And yes, Epic can survive very well without iOS.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Billyk711 Avatar
13 months ago
if epic disappeared tomorrow there would be a lot of very upset children and that's about it.
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
4jasontv Avatar
13 months ago

It's in Epic's interest to be as prepared as possible. This is a non - story.

And yes, Epic can survive very well without iOS.
It's more than that. It's more evidence they were looking to pick a fight. They need to calm down. It's too bad Apple wasn't allowed to block all Unreal games.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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