Apple Fires Back at Epic in Court Filing, Claims Fortnite Interest is ‘on the Wane’

In a court filing Tuesday, Apple fired back at Epic Games as the Fortnite developer tries once again to get its popular battle royale game back on the Apple App Store for iOS devices such as iPhone and iPad. While Apple’s arguments remain the same as the last time the court rejected Epic’s attempt to get a temporary restraining order to lift the ban on Fortnite, the platform holder threw a few insults in for good measure.

Apple’s previous argument (which it prevailed on) was that Epic could get Fortnite reinstated on iOS simply by removing the hotfix it deployed inside the game that circumvented Apple’s in-app purchasing program, allowing Epic to avoid the 30% fee charged per purchase. 

But in its latest filing, Apple also said that interest in Fortnite is waning, and the lawsuit is part of a larger marketing effort by Epic to generate interest in its game. 

“For reasons having nothing to do with Epic’s claims against Apple, Fortnite’s popularity is on the wane. By July 2020, interest in Fortnite had decreased by nearly 70% as compared to October 2019. This lawsuit (and the front-page headlines it has generated) appears to be part of a marketing campaign designed to reinvigorate interest in Fortnite,” Apple wrote in its latest filing. The 70% Apple refers to is based on Google Trends data on the number of people searching for Fortnite since its launch in 2017.

The last attempt to reinstate Fortnite was rejected by U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez on Aug. 25, noting that Epic could undo the situation simply by rolling back the update that started the entire situation. The court did grant the Epic relief on Apple’s attempt to revoke its developer status related to Unreal Engine, which hundreds of developers use for various iOS games.

Apple’s latest filing is in response to Epic’s second attempt to keep Fortnite on the App Store while continuing to fight the platform order in federal court over antitrust claims. A court date for the next hearing on antitrust claims is tentatively set for Sept. 28.

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