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Epic Games: Fortnite is doing fine, actually

The reports of Fortnite's decline are greatly exaggerated or, according to Epic Games' latest legal filing, based on cherry-picked Google Trends data from Apple.

The reports of Fortnite’s decline are greatly exaggerated or, according to Epic Games’ latest legal filing, based on cherry-picked Google Trends data from Apple.

Last week, the iPhone maker accused Epic Games of using its entire sprawling legal conflict with Apple as a marketing ploy to reinvigorate interest Fortnite which, according to numbers cited by Apple, had declined by 70 percent since October 2019.

Epic, in a new filing, maintains that the legal dispute is over what it believes in anti-competitive behavior and retaliation from Apple, and has now fired back against that “marketing ploy” claim with its own accusation that Apple’s evidence of a decline is based on a “cherry-picked” selection of data from Google Trends, rather that Fortnite’s actual engagement numbers.

Apple claims Epic brought this case to revive supposedly waning interest in Fortnite, alleging a 70 percent decline in 'interest' between October 2019 and July 2020,” reads the filing. “But Apple cherry-picked Google Trends data concerning Google search volumes, misleadingly starting from a one-week spike that took place in October 2019 when Epic ran an in-game event that captured global attention. Fortnite users increased over that period.” 

That in-game event was notably the close to Fortnite Chapter 1 in which Epic created a planned Fortnite outage in the form of an in-game black hole that devoured the game world and, in doing so, attracted well over a million viewers across streaming platforms.

Fortnite daily active users are, according to Epic, actually up 39 percent during the 10 month period in which Apple claims interest in the game was on the backslide.

Epic points out a handful more inconsistencies in its response, including a counter to Apple’s accusation that Epic previously violated PlayStation’s platform rules by rolling out cross-console online play without permission. In actuality, Fortnite was one of the inaugural participants in Sony’s cross-play beta (and likely instrumental in convincing PlayStation to finally allow cross-play with competing consoles). 

“Apple’s papers try to make this dispute about Apple’s innovative products, rather than Apple’s practices. Many monopolists start with extraordinary products, yet courts have to step in if they use their power to stifle competition. Apple also tries to make this case about speculative security concerns,” argues Epic Games.

“But Apple routinely allows third-party payment processing in other apps, including Amazon and Uber. And Apple identified no evidence that Epic’s direct payment, or any Epic product, posed an actual security threat. Apple’s strawman arguments should not distract from what is a simple situation supported by a long line of Supreme Court cases."

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