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Epic Games would have accepted special deal with Apple, says CEO

“If Apple had told you that it would offer you a deal and no other developers, would you have accepted that?”

What you need to know

  • Tim Sweeney says Epic Games would have accepted a special deal with Apple not available to any other developer to solve its App Store dispute.
  • That’s despite claims Epic says its antitrust battle will serve to benefit all developers.
  • Sweeney also said he prefers an iPhone because of the security and privacy offers and admitted that 30% commission was a common charge in app marketplaces.

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has admitted to a court that the company would have accepted an exclusive App Store deal had it been offered one by Apple.

Day 2 of the trial wrapped up the cross-examination of Sweeney before more of Epic’s witnesses were called. Sweeney was asked multiple questions about Fortnite, iOS, and the App Store. Questioned by Apple’s Richard Doren, Sweeney was asked if he knew what percentage of people who download Fortnite on iOS only buy things on iOS, Sweeney said no, but that he would be surprised if it was as low as 5%. When asked why Epic was blocking 95% of players from Fortnite because of 5% of its users he said that the company had considered the impact on consumers.

Sweeney spoke about the significant negotiations Epic had with Sony through 2018, as well as the fact the Epic Games has forecast that it will lose more than $850 million in cumulative losses thanks to the Epic Games store.

In one big revelation, however, Sweeney confirmed when asked that if Epic Games has been offered an exclusive deal by Apple for lower App Store commission that was not available to other developers, the company would have accepted it.

Interestingly, the question came from Epic’s own lawyers but does appear to undermine Epic’s previous sentiments that its fight is for all developers and will benefit everyone who uses the App Store. As suggested by Nick Statt here, it could be Epic is trying to get ahead of any legal argument Epic wanted a special deal by instead implying Apple was unwilling to negotiate.

Sweeney answered further multiple questions from layers, including directly from Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers:

Judge: “Do you have any understanding of the economics of developers who engage in apps that relate to food?”

Sweeney: “No”

Judge: “Do you have any understanding of the economics with respect to developers who have apps related to maps or GPS?”

Sweeney “I do not.”

Judge Rogers also asked about apps for coupons, weather, dating, and instant messenger before stating “So you don’t have any idea how what you are asking for would impact any of the developers who engage in those other categories of apps, is that right?” Sweeney agreed.

Epic called the CEO and founder of Yoga Buddhi Co. Benjamin Simon who spoke about how the company is chafing under App Store rules that preclude advertising its website within its app, free trials, recurring subscription payments, and more.

Judge Rogers, touching on the theme of an exclusive deal asked Do you find that objectionable that Apple has millions of developers and has one set of terms? Do you negotiate the various terms of agreements with your customers?” Simon said no.

Finally, Epic Games called NVIDIA’s Aashish Patel, who spoke about GeForce Now and the limitations of its new web-based version of its service compared to the previous App, which Apple rescinded approval for.

The case will continue Wednesday, and proceedings are likely to being with motions to strike some expert testimony.