Just as interest in the courtroom drama was starting to wane, Epic v Apple made the news again this week after some explosive details came out in the ongoing trial.
Most of it wasn’t even concerning the two industry giants battling it out, but the other companies brought into the fray to explain the situation to the court. For example, it came out that PlayStation is the only platform to charge game developers to enable crossplay. Another bombshell was that Microsoft has never sold an Xbox for profit, rather it makes its money through games and subscriptions.
It’s this later claim, among others, that Apple has taken issue with. As first spotted by The Verge, the mobile giant is calling for Microsoft to back this claim up with more evidence, or have it thrown out of court.
So why didn’t Apple appreciate Microsoft’s testimony? Lori Wright, VP of Xbox business development, appeared in court as an industry expert. Among the many things Wright explained, she spoke of Apple’s strange app store guidelines, which forbade game streaming services from using iOS. Practically, this meant that Stadia and xCloud had to launch on the web browser, rather than their own apps like on any other device.
The purpose of Wright’s testimony was to prove that the mobile games market is not the same as the console market. The comments on how xCloud was not permitted to run in its own app makes the tech giant’s rules look arbitrary and out of touch – just how Epic is claiming Apple is with its in-app revenue split.
Also in Epic’s defence, Microsoft explained that it only has to take the same 30% cut that Apple does because the consoles sell at a loss (worse for Apple, this has now been cut to 22%). The implication being that Apple does not have this excuse with the high price of iPhones, and doesn’t need the 30% cut.
For obvious reasons, Apple is not best pleased with this. It claims the evidence should be struck out due to a lack of supporting evidence for Microsoft’s claims, as the Xbox profits were not set out in court documents. If Apple is successful, this would mean the judge could not take any of this testimony into account when ruling on the case – defeating the argument that the mobile and console markets are radically different from one another.
As The Verge report, it is unlikely Microsoft will give up this information since it would reveal sales information to rivals. While it does appear Microsoft is in Epic’s corner, it remains to be seen how far the company will go in its defence of the Fortnite creators. It will be up the court to decide if the evidence is necessary.
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