Epic Games, developer of the popular video game Fortnite and Apple, locked horns as a three-week-long trial kicked off Monday in an Oakland, California courtroom. The relationship between Epic games and Apple hit a rough patch when the game developer broke Apple’s rules by putting its own in-app payment system in the iPhone version of Fortnite, bypassing Apple’s 30 percent fee. In response to this, Apple kicked Fornite out of its store. Epic Games then countered by serving Apple with a 65-page lawsuit. The developer alleges Apple of running its App Store as a monopoly. In fact, Epic estimates Apple’s profit from the App Store’s fees is roughly 80 percent; however, Apple responds to this by stating that it’s “simply wrong”.
Shortly before the Epic and Apple trial, Epic Games made an interesting announcement that it would offer Itch.io as an app on its own Epic Games Store. This was enough to shift the discussion lawsuit about apple’s app store policies to “Epic games has adult content on their platform”. The Fortnite publisher was going to trial with the aim of making Apple offer the competing app stores on its iPhone and iPad, so the move showed that Epic was willing to open up its own store in the same way.
On the fifth day of court, however, Apple tried to turn Itch.io into a liability — by telling Epic Games Store general manager Steven Allison about “so-called adult games” that were “so offensive, we cannot speak about them here.” But, of course, Epic hasn’t reviewed all these games that are on itch.io, and Apple noted that its standards are different from the Epic Games Store. For example, per Apple’s attorney, the list includes a game called Sisterly Lust that includes “a list of fetishes which include many words that are not appropriate for us to speak in federal courts.”
That’s probably not great for Epic. However, Judge Rogers seemed to take the concern seriously, asking Steve Allison of Epic games to explain whether Apple was correct. Allison objected, although he later pushed back on Apple’s obscure suggestion that Epic kick Itch.io off the Epic Games Store. “Itch.io is an incredible community for developers that we support fully,” Allison said, “They have an open platform, and therefore have different moderation standards than the Epic Games Store.” You can learn how the court trial went and more about this situation in this Twitter thread.
But regardless of what happens in court, Itch.io is an independent entity with a little direct stake in the trial. Still, it is upsetting to see that a company like Apple is going after a platform like Itch.io, one of the very few platforms for adult game developers to sell their games.