Apple Claims Fortnite's Declining Interest Is Behind Epic's Project Liberty

Apple says Epic engaged in a coordinated legal and PR campaign designed to raise interest in Fortnite and force Apple to change its business model.

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Apple has outlined its case against Epic games in preparation for next month's lawsuit, suggesting that Epic's high-profile moves last summer were part of a strategy to draw more attention to Fortnite, which the company says had been declining in popularity.

In its court filing Apple alleges that Epic planned a a strategy with lawyers and its public relations to "revive flagging interest in Fortnite," GameSpot sister site CNET reports. This plan, allegedly called Project Liberty internally at Epic, was months in the works. Apple also claims that Epic is attempting to change the iPhone business model.

"Apple is among the most innovative, competitive, dynamic, and creative companies in the United States, and millions of people benefit from its products and services," Apple stated. "Those products and services are the result of billions of dollars of investment, in addition to substantial time and thought, and represent Apple's intellectual property."

The allegations include insider knowledge at Epic regarding Project Liberty, suggesting the company will present internal records from Epic as evidence in the trial.

The legal battle started when Epic updated Fortnite to offer a direct payment mechanism that circumvented Apple's own App Store, thereby cutting out Apple's 30% share on digital goods. This led to Apple pulling the game from the App Store, which triggered an apparently ready-to-go PR and ad campaign. The campaign has consisted of a Fortnite movie parodying Apple's famous 1984 ad, a Fortnite skin that satirizes Apple CEO Tim Cook, and more.

Epic has previously stated in legal filings that it wishes to offer its own direct payment mechanisms similar to Netflix, calling the distinctions arbitrary. It has also argued that Apple's restrictions represent a monopoly and that Epic should be permitted to offer its own competing app distribution platform.

Google has similar restrictions, and Fortnite was similarly pulled from the Google Play Store. Epic is suing Google as well. The trial between Apple and Epic will begin on May 3.

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