Friday, 20 May 2022

Apple Accuses Microsoft Of Being Behind The Fortnite Lawsuit

In the latest of many farcical turns in the Apple v. Epic Games court case, Apple has accused Microsoft of being the real force behind the antitrust lawsuit. Apple’s lawyers asked the judge to dismiss the testimony of Xbox executive Lori Wright, stating, “a reasonable observer might wonder whether Epic is serving as a stalking horse for Microsoft”.

For those of you unfamiliar with legal jargon, a stalking horse refers to a company or person (in this case, Microsoft) using a third party  (in this case, Epic Games) to test a reaction to something. The accusation being leveled against Microsoft, by Apple, is that Microsoft actually wanted to sue Apple, but didn’t want all the public scrutiny that comes with a big lawsuit. Therefore, Apple is speculating the company cut a shady backroom deal with Epic so that it could test the waters instead, and see which side the public would back.

From the outside, it all appears a bit ridiculous and very “he-said-she-said”, but that being said, the outcome of this case could have far-reaching industry consequences. The case originally began with Epic accusing Apple of having a dangerous monopoly over the mobile gaming market, a monopoly that allows it to abuse its power and force developers to accept unfavourable deals. The lawsuit is an antitrust case, meaning the intended outcome is to ensure that Apple isn’t engaging in anti-competitive action.

Essentially, this is all being done to make sure Apple is being run in such a way that other businesses are able to compete with it. We’ve learned a lot in this case so far: Microsoft has never sold an Xbox for profit, Sony charges publishers to enable crossplay, and Apple doesn’t like naked bananas?

The case is set to conclude next week, with many believing Apple will win, due to Epic being unable to prove that Apple is abusing monopolistic powers. However, Mark Gurman of Bloomberg reports that even if Epic loses the case, developers and players could win. As Gruman notes, Apple “might loosen its ban on services that allow users to play different games inside a single app, just like they can access several movies inside of a service like Netflix […] Cloud gaming has nearly become the industry standard in 2021, and Apple’s ban on such content apps is old school and could eventually drive hardcore gamers away from its platform.”

Hopefully Gruman is right, and whichever company wins, the industry as a whole will benefit.

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