Epic's legal battle against Apple is going to court

Fortnite spy banana
(Image credit: Epic Games)

The lengthy legal brawl between Apple and Epic Games over microtransaction payment methods will officially go to trial later this year.

Lawyers for the two companies took part in a management conference yesterday, presided by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez. Details of the upcoming bench trial were discussed, and a date of May 3 was settled upon (thanks, MacRumors).

The saga dates back to August 2020, when Apple removed Fortnite from its app store after Epic added a new payment method that eliminated Apple's 30-percent fee. Epic then went ahead and filed a lawsuit against Apple, claiming that the juggernaut's 30-percent cut is "oppressive," "unfair and anti-competitive." 

They also had time to throw together a cheeky jab at Apple with their Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite parody of Apple's 1984 iconic Macintosh ad, accompanied by the #FreeFortnite event, which introduced the 'Tart Tyrant' skin. This all happened in a single day, mind you.

The trial will see Apple defend itself against Epic's claims, attempting to prove its App Store prices are fair and indeed not anti-competitive. Apple has even subpoenaed Valve as part of its attempt, arguing that certain Steam information will be crucial to building its case, though Valve is pushing back on the request.

Judge Gonzalez says the case is significant enough to warrant an in-person trial, believing witnesses are less likely to lie when sworn in in a physical courtroom. If COVID numbers remain high though, the trial will go ahead via Zoom.

Judge Gonzalez is hoping for the trial to last two to three weeks, but Epic wants to push the length to four to five weeks. There's no set timeframe yet though, to be determined when some of the finer details of the trial get ironed out.

Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has been particularly vocal about Apple, recently accusing the company of having no boundaries and saying that it's "terrifying how much leverage Apple has consumers and developers." Apple has been much quieter, but told GamesIndustry.biz earlier this year that Epic's unapproved payment method was "reckless behaviour" that "made pawns of customers." 

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.