A security guard sets up a stanchion as Legal staff for Epic Games push a cart with boxes of paperwork into federal court on May 03, 2021 in Oakland, California. Image: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
The trial between Epic and Apple opened today the only way it could—with hundreds of random people screaming about Fortnite on an open phone line. The trial between the tech giants kicked off today and was immediately delayed by people screaming.Thanks to COVID-19 and general interest in the case, the District Court in California set up a public phone line where the public could call in and listen in to the proceedings.
As first spotted by QZ tech reporter Nicolás Rivero, the phone lines weren’t muted and gamers called in to talk about Fortnite and mention their favorite streamers.
“I would suck all of you to get Fornite Mobile back,” one participant said.“Epic is not winning right now,” another person said.It’s hard to make out what, exactly, the callers are saying because there’s so many of them and they’re all talking at the same time, similar to the energy of an unmoderated Call of Duty: Warzone voice channel after a Plunder match. The trial went dark for a moment and came back.“Sorry for the delay,” a woman said when the trial came back. “But I think we’ve got the phone lines figured out. This will not be a problem in the future.”The court did not, in fact, have the phone lines figured out, and the open line did, indeed, become a problem again. As Epic and Apple moved through their opening statements, occasionally, a caller would get through and break mute to say some wild shit and derail the proceedings. Mostly unintelligible, often high pitched, and always weird, the voices repeatedly broke into the trial and disrupted everything. “Why do I always use a controller?” One voice asked. “Because my grandmother’s a—” They said, unable to finish the joke it had set up before someone muted them.
The trial centers on whether or not Apple’s App Store constitutes a monopoly and over the fees it charges developers. Epic claims it does and is upset that Apple takes a 30 percent cut of all revenue Epic and others sell within games like Fortnite. The trouble began in August 2020 when Epic allowed users to sideload Fortnite and bypass the App Store all together. In response, Apple removed Fortnite from the store and cut off Epic’s access to its developer accounts. Epic was ready with its lawsuit and launched a bizarre 1984-themed propaganda campaign aimed at getting consumers on its side.
The long and comprehensive opening arguments for both sides are available online in powerpoint form. Or you can tune in live and listen as the chaos unfolds while high-priced lawyers stumble through explanations of complex systems while people occasionally break in to wail about Fortnite skins.