Epic Games v. Apple: Here's everything we've learned so far [Updated]

Fortnite (Image credit: Windows Central)

What you need to know

  • Back in August, Epic Games announced a lawsuit against Apple over its App Store policies.
  • On May 3, 2021, the Epic v. Apple trial began.
  • The trial has resulted in insider info from many, many companies becoming public knowledge.

Update May 19, 2021 at 1:20 p.m. ET: Nintendo employing the Streisand effect and a massive document detailing Microsoft's indie dev policies have been added to the list.

Update May 7, 2021 at 10:37 a.m. ET: Apple's motion to diminish the credibility of a Microsoft VP's testimony has been added to the roundup.

The Epic Games v. Apple trial began on May 3, 2021, and has since been doling out golden news nugget after golden news nugget. So many interesting items, ranging from yakuza-related stipulations in Nintendo publishing contracts to Walmart's cloud gaming service, have been revealed as a result of the proceedings. Now it's time to round up all the vital bits of info the trial has unearthed.

To give a quick bit of background: Epic Games decided it was tired of Apple taking a 30% cut of revenue for all sales made via the App Store, so it released an alternate payment method inside of Fortnite, which got the game kicked off the App Store for violating Apple's policies. Epic Games didn't like that, so it accused Apple of having an illegal app monopoly and hit the tech giant with a full-on lawsuit, which we're now in the thick of.

So in case you're not caught up on the biggest, most entertaining legal battle in gaming in recent memory, no worries: Windows Central is here to provide you with all the key takeaways and biggest scoops from the trial. Here's everything important that's been revealed thus far.

Microsoft doesn't make money on Xbox consoles

Though this was something of a well-known fact before the trial, it's now been reaffirmed by Microsoft that it does not make money from selling Xbox consoles. In fact, it's the opposite: Microsoft loses money with each unit it produces.

Microsoft has toyed with the idea of reducing its cut of net games sales revenue to 12% on Xbox

Microsoft claims it does not currently have plans to reduce its share of net game sales revenue from Xbox sales to 12%. However, internal documents have revealed Microsoft definitely did, at some point, have thoughts about reducing its cut to 12%.

Microsoft got Shadow, a cloud computing service, kicked off Apple's App Store over xCloud arguments

Microsoft wanted to get its streaming app onto Apple's storefront, and the fruit-king of tech said no. In response, Microsoft pointed to Shadow, which offered a similar (though not identical) service, and said, "well, they're on your app store!" Apple then temporarily removed Shadow from the store while still not granting Microsoft permission.

Epic pays Sony for crossplay but not Microsoft

As seen in old emails shared between Sony and Epic Games, the Japanese tech company knew very well that it had the upper hand in all negotiations with Epic about Fortnite crossplay thanks to the PS4 absolutely dominating the Xbox One. So it made a deal with Epic: Fortnite players on PS4 could play with Xbox One players and vice versa, but only if Epic compensated Sony.

Microsoft wishes it had games like The Last of Us Part 2

Internal documents reveal that Microsoft's head honchos have experienced The Last of Us Part 2 and, to put it mildly, are big fans of the game. "This game sets a new bar for what we should hope to be able to achieve going into a new generation of consoles," Microsoft said, apparently hoping that it'll put out a game of similar quality during the Xbox Series X's lifecycle.

Epic Games called Microsoft well poisoners

In the same email chain where Lego Universe's derailment at the hands of phallic imagery was brought up, and Epic's online gameplay systems lead David Nikdel said, "the AI singularity will probably be some form of ML dick detector," there was also a bit of Microsoft mudslinging. In reference to Microsoft's augmented reality marketing efforts, Epic Games VP Mark Rein said, "Yeah horribly overselling AR in a way that poisons the well for the industry. They did this same sh*t with Hololens."

Epic Games foreshadowed its Apple lawsuit and asked Phil Spencer to nix the Xbox Gold paywall for Fortnite

In a series of emails between Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and head of Xbox Phil Spencer, the former hinted that Epic Games would be doing something crazy in August (aka, a giant lawsuit against the company responsible for iPhones) and that it'd behoove Xbox to make Fortnite truly free around that time to look extra good in the public eye. Phil got back to him with an "I'm busy right now, Tim," email.

Apple goes after Lori Wright's testimony

Apple filed a motion to diminish the credibility of Microsoft VP Lori Wright's testimony, claiming that Microsoft deliberately failed to produce key documents in time for proper cross-examinations.

A document exposes Phil Spencer's hangouts with Gabe Newell and Microsoft's policies for indies

A massive document revealed what Epic pays Sony for first-party PlayStation games, Phil Spencer's trips to visit Valve's Gabe Newell, and Microsoft's aggressive policies towards indie devs, among other juicy tidbits.

A possible Microsoft-Nintendo business partnership gets a spotlight

Nintendo pointed out that sensitive info was revealed via a Microsoft exec's deposition during the Epic v. Apple trial. In doing so, it may have accidentally hinted that said sensitive info relates to an xCloud and Game Pass parternship between itself and Microsoft, since the Mario maker had no need to comment unless it had some reason to care about xCloud mentions.

This post will be updated if and when more bombshells drop, but in the meantime, keep it posted to Windows Central. And don't forget to grab some popcorn before the next round to Apple-Epic madness goes down.

Robert Carnevale

Robert Carnevale is the News Editor for Windows Central. He's a big fan of Kinect (it lives on in his heart), Sonic the Hedgehog, and the legendary intersection of those two titans, Sonic Free Riders. He is the author of Cold War 2395. Have a useful tip? Send it to robert.carnevale@futurenet.com.