Epic Games offers users game credits as part of settlement with Apple.
Epic Games, maker of Fortnite and Rocket League, is choosing to settle a lawsuit against it brought by Apple alleging it “violated state consumer protection laws, prevented minors from exercising their contractual disaffirmation rights, and negligently misrepresented the value of its in-game items in connection” with these two games. In August 2020, Epic Games released a software update allowing users to bypass Apple’s proprietary in-app payment system, which went against its original contract. In doing so, it will be offering V-bucks to users.
The class action is set to be settled with a special perk for Fortnite and Rocket League players in which the company is awarding 1,000 V-Bucks or 1,000 Rocket League Credits to all players who made a qualifying purchase any of the Fortnite: Save the World or Rocket League loot boxes sold beginning in 2015. Users won’t have to submit a claim to get the V-Bucks or Credits. They will be automatically applied to their accounts.
Players of either game that “believe they were harmed or damaged by virtue of their in-game Fortnite or Rocket League purchases and meet certain criteria” will also be able to file a claim for part of $26.5 million in cash that’s being paid out, up to $50 each player.
A late-September hearing, which was livestreamed on Zoom, was set to determine whether Gonzalez Rogers would grant Epic’s request for a preliminary injunction. “Although Epic portrays itself as a modern corporate Robin Hood, in reality it is a multi-billion-dollar enterprise that simply wants to pay nothing for the tremendous value it derives from the App Store,” Apple stated its motion at the time.
Gonzalez had told Epic more than once at the hearing she was “not persuaded by its arguments or its strategy.” She added, “Epic knew that it was breaching its contract with Apple when it published the update but did it anyway” and accused it of dishonesty.
“Tens of millions of iOS users have been harmed,” Epic submitted in a statement last fall, “by what it described as a retaliatory decision by Apple to remove Fortnite from the iOS App Store. The decision reflects Apple’s ironclad control and unlawful monopoly maintenance.” The company called Apple’s in-app payment system a form of “illegal tying.”
Epic’s CEO Tim Sweeney “is trying to be the Pied Piper of other developers,” said Apple’s attorney Ted Boutrous responded. “Epic wants others to cheat, breach [their] agreement [and] sneak in software to bypass app review.” A finding in Epic’s favor would be a “green light to other companies and that would be very dangerous.”
Epic’s attorneys acknowledged the breach of contract but claimed it did so because it was “refusing to comply with an anti-competitive contract, and that forcing a legal battle was part of Epic’s plan.” Epic’s attorney, Katherine Forrest, said, “When you are taking on the biggest company in the world, and you’re taking it on where you know it’s going to retaliate, you don’t lie down in the street and die. You plan very carefully on how you’re going to respond.”
Now, it looks like this “epic” saga will come to a close, for now. In opting to settle, Epic Games did not admit to any wrongdoing.