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
8 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
8 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
8 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
8 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
8 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
8 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)

Top Stories

fortnite apple logo 2

Epic Games Takes Legal Battle With Apple to Europe With Antitrust Complaint

Wednesday February 17, 2021 2:08 am PST by
Epic Games has filed an antitrust complaint against Apple in the European Union, broadening its legal battle against the tech giant by attempting to appeal to the EU's differing interpretation of antitrust issues compared to those in the United States (via The Wall Street Journal). Last September, Epic Games‌‌ added a Fortnite update that allowed customers to purchase in-game currency directl...
fortnite apple featured

Epic Games v. Apple Trial Wraps Up, But We Likely Won't Know the Outcome for Months

Monday May 24, 2021 4:58 pm PDT by
The three week Epic Games v. Apple trial wrapped up today, with a series of debates that were held in lieu of traditional closing arguments. The wrap up follows Apple CEO Tim Cook's testimony last week, which saw him grilled by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on Apple's App Store policies. As outlined by Protocol, at the conclusion of the trial, Rogers aimed to get at the heart of the dispute...
fortnite apple featured

Epic Games Expands Fortnite Legal Dispute With Apple to the UK

Thursday January 14, 2021 12:14 pm PST by
Epic Games has submitted a complaint to the United Kingdom's Competition Appeal Tribunal, expanding its Fortnite legal battle with both Apple and Google to another country. According to Bloomberg, Epic Games is claiming that Apple's decision to remove Fortnite from the App Store was unlawful, and the company is aiming to get Apple to allow Fortnite back into the British App Store. In a...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic Games' App Store Legal Challenge 'Self-Serving,' Apple Tells Australian Court

Tuesday March 23, 2021 2:37 am PDT by
Apple has told an Australian court that Epic Games' legal challenge against the App Store is "self-serving," and that all the software company aims to do is "redefine the terms of access" that it's always been subject to on Apple's platforms. As reported by The Guardian, Apple and Epic Games on Tuesday went head-to-head in a federal court in Sydney, Australia, following Epic's decision to...
fortnite apple logo 2

Judge in Epic vs. Apple Case Floats Potential Compromise

Wednesday May 12, 2021 3:54 pm PDT by
In the ongoing legal battle between Apple and Epic Games, the two companies are this week calling up their expert witnesses to argue their points before Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, who will make a decision in the case after a three week trial. Expert testimony is not as exciting as some of the leaked App Store documents that were highlighted last week, especially as much of what's being...
fortnite apple logo 2

Apple Terminates Epic Games' Developer Account

Friday August 28, 2020 1:24 pm PDT by
Apple in mid-August said that it would terminate Epic Games' developer account if the Fortnite app continued to break the App Store rules, and today, Apple followed through with that threat and removed Epic's access to the Epic Games account. Fortnite has been unavailable for a few weeks, but other Epic Games titles like Battle Breakers and Infinity Blade Stickers were still in the App...
fortnite1984

Epic Games Aiming to Recruit 'Coalition of Apple Critics' to Fight App Store Policies

Monday August 17, 2020 6:27 pm PDT by
Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite that recently entered into a major dispute with Apple over App Store policies, is aiming to organize a wider opposition to Apple, reports The Information. Epic over the course of the last few weeks has allegedly reached out to other tech executives with the hopes of forming a coalition of companies that are critical of Apple's business practices....
fortnite apple featured

Tim Cook Ordered to Attend 7-Hour Deposition in Apple vs. Epic Games Lawsuit

Tuesday February 2, 2021 3:33 am PST by
A judge presiding over preparatory hearings in the Apple vs. Epic Games court case has ruled that Apple CEO Tim Cook must attend a seven-hour long deposition to testify about how the company views App Store competition, reports Gizmodo. U.S. magistrate Judge Thomas S. Hixon reportedly settled on the seven-hour deposition after Epic Games proposed eight hours to depose Cook and Apple...
fortnite apple logo 2

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney Admits App Store's 30% Cut Is Similar to Consoles, Would Have Accepted Special Deal With Apple

Tuesday May 4, 2021 1:54 pm PDT by
Apple's legal battle with Epic Games is continuing on, and during the second day of the trial, Epic Games' CEO Tim Sweeney continued his testimony against Apple. Sweeney was grilled by Apple's lawyers, and made several points seemingly favorable to Apple. In addition to mentioning how he prefers Apple's iPhone and values Apple's privacy policies that he's aiming to dismantle, Sweeney...
app store blue banner uk fixed

Epic Games Files Complaint to Support UK Antitrust Watchdog's Apple Probe

Tuesday March 30, 2021 4:19 am PDT by
Epic Games today said it had filed a complaint to the UK's antitrust watchdog in support of the government department's ongoing investigation into Apple's alleged anti-competitive behavior. In September 2020, the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) launched an initial inquiry into developers' complaints about Apple's App Store and so-called "anti-competitive" practices....