(Bloomberg) – The lawyer for Apple Inc. questioned the chief executive of Epic Games Inc. to try to show that the iPhone maker, far from operating as a monopoly, helped give video players the choice to play on different platforms.
On the second day of a high-risk antitrust trial, interrogation by Epic CEO Tim Sweeney aimed to weaken his company’s argument that the Apple App Store is “a walled garden” that “trapped” developers with onerous conditions and limits the user’s choice.
The trial before a federal judge in Oakland, California, is the first test of a broader reaction that Apple is facing – with billions of dollars in revenue at stake – from global regulators and some application developers who say their standard fee for 30% App Store and other policies are unfair and selfish.
The fight with Epic broke out in August, when the game maker told customers it would start offering a discounted direct purchase plan for items in its Fortnite game, and Apple then removed the app from the game, cutting off access to more. billion customers.
Tim Sweeney arrives at the US district court in Oakland, California, on May 3.
Photographer: David Paul Morris / Bloomberg
Richard Doren, an Apple lawyer, pointed out that his client’s iOS device users could play on different hardware platforms, even when Sweeney complained to Sony Corp. in an email that friendships forged by playing Fortnite – a multiplayer battle royale game – were “being torn apart” because Sony didn’t allow multiplatform games. Multiplatform game with PlayStation enabled in 2018.
Similarly, Apple allows players to use Epic’s virtual game currency acquired on other platforms when playing on iOS devices, but Sony, which also invested in Epic, does not allow cross-wallet gaming, Doren said. .
“Sony finally agreed to play cross-platform, but it never agreed to cross-wallet transactions, correct?” Doren asked. “Yes,” said Sweeney.
Sweeney was asked why he uses an iPhone instead of an Android phone – a question that aims to reinforce Apple’s argument that App Store policies are designed to protect consumers from malware and security threats.
For Apple, security and privacy are “key differentiators,” said Doren. “Do you personally prefer to use the iPhone because Apple’s approach to protecting your privacy is superior to Google’s?” he asked.
Sweeney said, “That is one reason.”
Epic’s lawyers again questioned Sweeney to give him a chance to clarify his answers to some of Apple’s questions in the first two days of the trial.
Apple placed Sweeney on Monday to confirm that Epic takes a 40% cut when it publishes games created by other game developers. Sweeney made a distinction from the Apple App Store’s software distribution model, saying that a publisher bears certain costs, including financing the development and marketing of the game.
Apple is also arguing that, before Epic sued, it asked for a special deal that would allow the company to run its own direct payment system that bypasses App Store fees.
“Would you have accepted an agreement from Apple only for Epic, and not for other developers?” Epic’s lawyer asked the CEO.
Sweeney said frankly, “Yes, I would have.”
When Sweeney’s testimony ended. Epic called Benjamin Simon, executive director of fitness app developer Yoga Buddhi, to the booth to discuss the App Store review process and the developer’s interactions with Apple.
(Updates with additional testimony from Sweeney)
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