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.

Popular Stories

Apple Vision Pro 2 Feature 2

Apple Reportedly Suspends Work on Vision Pro 2

Tuesday June 18, 2024 8:17 am PDT by
Apple has suspended work on the second-generation Vision Pro headset to singularly focus on a cheaper model, The Information reports. Apple was widely believed to have plans to divide its Vision product line into two models, with one "Pro" model and one lower-cost standard model. The company is said to have been deprioritizing the next Vision Pro headset over the past year, gradually...
Apple WWDC24 Apple Intelligence hero 240610

Apple Explains iPhone 15 Pro Requirement for Apple Intelligence

Wednesday June 19, 2024 4:48 am PDT by
With iOS 18, iPadOS 18, and macOS Sequoia, Apple is introducing a new personalized AI experience called Apple Intelligence that uses on-device, generative large-language models to enhance the user experience across iPhone, iPad, and Mac. These new AI features require Apple's latest iPhone 15 Pro and iPhone 15 Pro Max models to work, while only Macs and iPads with M1 or later chips will...
2022 back to school apple feature

Apple's 2024 Back to School Sale Launching This Week

Monday June 17, 2024 12:27 pm PDT by
Apple will launch its annual Back to School promotion for university students in the United States and Canada this week, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Apple's back to school sales provide students with a free Apple gift card when purchasing a Mac or an iPad, and this year's promotion could help Apple push the new M2 iPad Air and M4 iPad Pro models. Last year, Apple offered U.S....
apple watch series 9 display

Kuo: Apple Watch Series 10 to Get Larger Screen and Thinner Design

Monday June 17, 2024 1:20 am PDT by
This year's Apple Watch Series 10 will be thinner and come in larger screen sizes than previous models, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. In his latest industry note -10-and-98075c44ce92">shared on Medium, Kuo said the screen size options on the next-generation Apple Watch will increase from 41mm to 45mm, and from 45mm to 49mm, while being encased in a thinner design. For reference,...
M4 Real Feature Red

M4 MacBook Pro Models Expected to Launch in Late 2024

Tuesday June 18, 2024 10:50 am PDT by
MacBook Pro models with an M4 chip are expected to launch in the fourth quarter of 2024, according to display analyst Ross Young. In a tweet for subscribers, Young said that panel shipments for new 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models are set to begin in the third quarter of 2024, which suggests a launch toward the end of the year. Apple started its M4 chip refresh in May with the launch...
Apple Pay Later feature 1

Apple Discontinuing Apple Pay Later

Monday June 17, 2024 11:44 am PDT by
Apple is discontinuing Apple Pay Later, the buy now, pay later feature that it just launched last October. Apple Pay Later is being discontinued as of today, but people who have existing Apple Pay Later loans will be able to continue to pay them off and manage them through the Wallet app. Apple announced plans to end the feature in a statement provided to 9to5Mac, which also notes that...
watchOS 11 Thumb 2 1

watchOS 11 Supports Automatic Nap Detection

Monday June 17, 2024 4:05 pm PDT by
watchOS 11 appears to include a new feature that allows an Apple Watch to automatically detect and record when you're taking a nap. As shared on Reddit, an Apple Watch owner took a nap and was able to see the sleep data recorded in the Health app, despite not putting the device in Sleep Mode. Right now, the Apple Watch only tracks and records sleep when it is in Sleep Mode, and there is no...
iPod Nano vs iPod Pro Ad Feature 1

Apple Developing Thinner MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone

Monday June 17, 2024 2:22 am PDT by
Apple intends to slim down the MacBook Pro, Apple Watch, and iPhone, with the new ultra-thin M4 iPad Pro a sign of the company's new design trajectory, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. When the M4 iPad Pro was unveiled last month, Apple touted it as the company's thinnest product ever, and even compared it to the 2012 iPod nano to emphasize its slim dimensions. Writing in the latest ...

Top Rated Comments

sniffies Avatar
44 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
44 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
44 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
44 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
44 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
44 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)