The legal dispute between Epic Games and Apple also shows how much money can now be made with a single hit game on mobile devices. From the start in 2018 to its expulsion in mid-2020, Fortnite was apparently able to earn billions on iOS alone: Epic generated over 700 million US dollars with the game, Apple explains in court documents – accordingly, the company would have to around 300 million US dollars Have withheld commission for in-app purchases.
High commission, small marketing expenses
In the witness stand at the ongoing trial, an Apple manager responsible for games in the App Store only confirmed that Fortnite had generated “over 100 million US dollars” in sales, and that a more precise specification of the amount of the commission would be “inappropriate”. Apple has spent around one million US dollars promoting Fortnite in the past few months, according to the court – in view of the high commission, Epic’s lawyers mockingly described this as a “good deal”.
Apple can automatically withhold 30 percent commission for such in-app purchases in games, because payment must be made via its own interface. This was also the trigger for the legal dispute: Epic Games wants to process such in-app purchases itself, Apple forbids this contractually.
According to previous court documents, iOS only contributed 7 percent to Fortnite’s total sales. The game achieved almost half of its sales in the same period on Sony’s Playstation 4 and a further 27 percent on Xbox One. The share of sales on Android, Nintendo Switch and PCs was put at a good 18 percent.
Apple: Epic just a front man for Microsoft
In a new entry Apple now referred to Epic Games as a Microsoft straw man (“stalking horse”) who, in a sense, tested the water with the lawsuit. Both companies would withhold important documents around Apple’s rejected introduction of the Xbox cloud streaming service on iOS and led discussions about app store rules, Apple’s lawyers write. Statements by the Microsoft manager Lori Wright interviewed by Epic should therefore not be allowed. Wright had emphasized in court that Microsoft made no profit with the Xbox hardware, but only earned money through commissions with the game distribution.
The trial is nearing completion, and Apple CEO Tim Cook is due to take the stand on Friday. A judgment is likely to be several weeks in coming – and is likely to be challenged immediately by the loser side.