In a minor but significant victory for Microsoft, Apple has told the maker of “Fortnite” that its gaming app doesn’t infringe any of Apple’s patents, according to Bloomberg. The decision, which could affect other game makers like EA, could be a powerful signal to the video game industry that even a smaller threat, like “Fortnite,” isn’t enough to bring down the business on the strength of one device.
Microsoft was seeking compensation from Epic Games and was demanding to see its “Fortnite” app in order to determine whether the game maker had infringed on a suite of Apple patents. However, Apple’s lawyers denied the request, arguing that it would hurt the industry by discouraging game developers from developing for the App Store.
Epic was already on the record saying that it had not intentionally infringed on any Microsoft patents. However, Apple’s decision to restrict gaming developers to a single platform has had a major impact on the industry. Nintendo’s partnership with Microsoft for the Switch console opened it up to third-party developers, but even that hasn’t reached enough third-party game makers to support the Switch as a viable gaming platform.
One of Microsoft’s main targets is Apple, which is also a major partner. Apple has been a partner in building Xbox One gaming consoles and Xbox Live. However, as announced with the latest console, Microsoft is also now selling the Xbox One S and Xbox One X. Because it’s a third-party, there’s not as much compelling reason to purchase that model, which means Apple’s ability to play a significant role in pushing console sales is weaker with an Xbox One that’s now sold in much lower volumes than the current generation.
Predictably, as expected, there are possible antitrust implications from this. Samsung, too, has sought damages from Apple for having the iPhone occupy the entire market for premium smartphones. A round about lawsuit involving the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 may have got out of hand, but antitrust law is fairly specific about how it’s broken, and it means that should Apple owe money to Samsung, it’s sure to continue to be a huge liability.