“Fortnite” maker Epic Games Inc. deliberately violated Apple Inc.’s app-marketplace rules to show the power that Apple wields and that the tech giant takes an unfair share of money from software developers, the videogame company’s chief executive testified in a trial Monday.
“Apple was making more profit from selling developer apps in the App Store than developers,” said Tim Sweeney, whose company’s global hit “Fortnite” was removed from Apple’s mobile app platform last August.
The statements from Mr. Sweeney, a 50-year-old programmer who founded Epic in 1991, in an Oakland, Calif., courtroom came on the first day of a planned three-week bench trial, one that could help reshape the multibillion-dollar market for distributing apps on mobile devices.
Mr. Sweeney, who donned a blue suit instead of his usual attire of cargo pants and a T-shirt, had been plotting the moment for months. His closely held company in August inserted its own, unauthorized payment system into the versions of “Fortnite” on the app stores that Apple and Alphabet Inc.’s Google control, as a way to circumvent the 30% fee the companies collect from in-app purchases.
Both companies yanked the combat game from their app stores in response, as Epic expected, prompting it to file lawsuits against them, as well as launch a public-relations campaign critical of Apple to draw support from consumers and other app developers. A trial date for Epic’s suit against Google hasn’t been set.