Fornite on iOSSource: Epic Games

What you need to know

  • A key argument in Apple's defense against Epic Games will be to highlight 'Project Liberty', Epic Games' internal name for its fight against Apple and Google.
  • New internal emails reveal that as late as May 2020 Epic execs were very aware Fortnite might be booted from the App Store.
  • It also shows concerns they could even be sued by Apple and Google, and that they could end up looking like "the bad guys".

New internal emails filed as part of the Epic Games antitrust suit against Apple reveal Epic's execs were wary that Fortnite could be booted from the App Store, or that Apple might even sue them as a result of its fight against Apple's policies, dubbed internally as 'Project Liberty'.

Filed as part of the evidence accompanying the testimony of Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney, an email chain from May 2020 seen by iMore begins by outlining a myriad of issues that needed to be addressed by Epic before its 'Project Liberty' plan went into action. As previously reported, it emerged that Epic Games had planned its move against Apple and Google as far back as 2018, with Tim Sweeney telling the court Monday that anything less would have been foolish.

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An email from Epic's Daniel Vogel states:

There are a myriad of edge cases to solve like impact on SAC, POSA cards, etc, but the critical dependency on going live with our VBUCKS price reduction efforts is finding the most effective way to get Apple and Google to reconsider without us looking like the baddies

Here is my understanding of the plan:

We submit a build to Google and Apple with the ability to hotfix on our payment method that passes the savings on to customers

We flip the switch when we know we can get by without having to update the client for 3 weeks or so

Our messaging is about passing on price savings to players.

Google and Apple will immediately pull the build for new players and potentially take an even more aggressive stance

Vogel goes on to state the next steps are less well defined and should be Epic's focus, asking what the approach is when Fortnite goes offline, and "how do we not look like the bad guys", as well as countering Apple and Google's lobbying. Vogel notes it was likely both would see the move as an existential threat, as well as clearly stating that part of the plan was the anticipated removal of Fortnite from the App Store.

Tim Sweeney asked to be kept 100% in the loop on the topic before Epic's Mark Rein chimed in stating there was likely a "better than 50% chance Apple and Google will immediately remove the games from their stores the minute we do this". Rein went a step further and said "they may also sue us" to make an example.

As commenters have noted, one likely tactic Apple will use in its defense against Epic will be to emphasize the nature of 'Project Liberty' as a pre-meditated move against Apple and Google, counsel for Apple on Monday pressed Sweeney on whether it was a "PR move". Sweeney stated that Epic hoped Apple "would seriously reconsider its policy then and there", and that Epic wanted to show the world "through action" the impact of Apple's App Store policies and that direct payment would result in savings passed on to iOS and Android users.

Day 2 of the trial concluded Tuesday, with testimony from Tim Sweeney, as well as other expert witnesses and their cross-examinations taking place.