“Is this the guy that was at one of our rehearsals?” reads an email from Apple CEO Tim Cook in June 2015, responding to an email from Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney requesting that Apple eventually turn its App Store into an “open platform.”
Only a few weeks prior, Epic (though not Sweeney) had been on stage at Apple’s annual developer conference to show off Fortnite and Unreal Engine development tools on Mac.
“Hi Tim, y’all should think about separating iOS App Store curation from compliance review and app distribution,” reads the original email from Sweeney. “The App Store has done much good for the industry, but it doesn’t seem tenable for Apple to be the sole arbiter of expression and commerce over an app platform approaching a billion users.”
Cook’s reply was sent to former Apple senior VP of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller and current Apple senior VP of Internet software and services Eddy Cue.
It’s the latest in a series of interesting (and often embarrassing) disclosures happening as a result of the Apple vs. Epic trial that started on Monday, in which the two companies are butting heads over the App Store’s restrictions. The lawsuit has dragged a lot of private correspondence from various tech and gaming-related companies into the public eye, including Sony’s explanations for why the company was so reluctant to embrace cross-play.
Epic Games has made regular appearances at Apple events over the years, first representing themselves as vital technology developers for game creation with Unreal Engine and later as the team behind one of the most popular video games around, Fortnite.
Even before Fortnite, however, Epic has made splashes on Apple devices with video games. In 2010, Apple co-founder Steve Jobs introduced the company onto the stage to demonstrate Project Sword, the game that would become the very successful Infinity Blade.
Jobs passed away in 2011.