Ever since Epic Games got into a fight against Apple over the App Store fees, the company has claimed that the fight is about the “basic freedom” of consumers and distributors alike. This was also why Epic Games was not interested in a special deal just for itself on the App Store. However, in his testimony against Apple, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney confirmed that he would have taken a special deal from Apple for lower App Store fees.
During his testimony, Sweeney agreed to using an iPhone because of the privacy and safety features it offers. Apple’s lawyers also heavily focused on Epic Games praising and using Metal API in the past. Internal emails reveal that Sweeney praised Metal API, saying it was exactly the kind of “feature-rich API” they needed to “bring a game designed for modern consoles and desktops to the battery-powered iPhone and iPad.”
Sweeney started pushing Apple to open iOS as a platform from 2015 itself. In an email from June 2015, Sweeney emailed Apple executives saying, “Y’all should think about separating iOS App Store curation from compliance review and app distribution.” Funnily enough, Tim Cook ended up asking Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue if Sweeney is “the guy that was at one of our rehearsals?”
More importantly, during Sweeney’s testimony, when an Apple lawyer asked him if he would have taken a special App Store deal from Apple, he confirmed that he would have. Sweeney’s statements make it clear that ultimately the ongoing Apple vs. Epic Games trial is more about Fortnite’s removal from the App Store and less about the “basic freedom” of consumers and developers.
At the end of today’s hearing, Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers asked Sweeney what would happen if Epic Games lost the lawsuit. Sweeney said this would give Apple the “right to remove our developer program for any reason or no reason.” This would mean that Epic Games would not be able to support Fortnite for iOS.