EPIC IS FIGHTING APPLE AND GOOGLE AFTER THE DUO REMOVE FORTNITE FROM THEIR PLATFORMS
On August 13, 2020, Epic Games, the company behind Fortnite announced that consumers could buy V-bucks, the in-game currency in Fortnite directly from their website. Until then, Fortnite mobile gamers had to make these purchases directly through either the App Store or Playstore, depending on their mobile platform.
Epic also gave gamers an additional incentive to buy the in-game coins from Epic rather than the two stores: they offered the same coins at a 20% discount rate.
Hours later, Apple booted off Fortnite from the App Store. Google followed a while later. Both companies said that Epic violated their guidelines. Which meant iOS users could no longer download or update Fortnite. While Android users had to get the game from third-party stores.
Following this, Epic filed lawsuits in the U.S. federal court against both Apple and Google. They accused both Apple and Google of anti-trust violations.
A while later, Apple retaliated. It pulled support for Epic’s Unreal game engine, which is a renowned game engine. Epic could no longer access Apple’s Developer Tools. This means that using the engine, developers including Epic can no longer develop for the iOS and Mac, and other Apple platforms.
WHAT EPIC WANTS
Epic has wanted to end the monopoly maintained by both Apple and Google for years. Epic has accused both companies of maintaining walled gardens for a while now.
Apple, for instance, does not allow its users to install applications from any third-party stores. All installations on the Apple device must be made through the App Store. This gives Apple more control over its entire smartphone ecosystem.
Meanwhile, Android being an open ecosystem is slightly better. Google allows Android users to download applications and games from third-party sources like the Amazon App Store and Samsung App Store. But it too comes with its own set of problems.
The biggest gripe Epic has with Google and Apple, however, is the 30% cut they take from the revenue developers make from their applications. Epic says that this percentage is too much as it eats into the overall profit many developers make, especially small ones(in Epic’s own Epic Store, they take only a 12% cut.)
Epic said in a statement,
“We think all developers should be free to support direct payments in all apps. In operating Fortnite on open platforms and operating the Epic Games Store, Epic has processed over $1,600,000,000 of direct payments successfully and uses industry-trusted encryption and security measures to protect customer transactions. Clearly Apple and Google acknowledge that third-party payment services are safe and acceptable for goods and services. Epic direct payment simply offers players the same kinds of payment options as these other apps.”
Epic isn’t the first one to raise this complaint. In March 2019, Spotify filed a similar complaint against Apple for their 30% cut. Spotify has now come in support for Epic and so has Match, the parent company of Tinder.
In addition, Epic maintains that it is looking for special treatment. The company counters the argument. It says that it is fighting for all developers.
However, both Apple and Google maintain that the cut is fair. They say the fees are fair for providing a secure payment system and for keeping the stores’ safe experience. They maintain that third-party payments will not be as secure, and they are serving the best interests of their users.
THE UNREAL ENGINE
Apple’s retaliation in the form of pulling out support for the Unreal engine has not sat well with Epic. Unreal Engine is a very popular engine used by game developers, architects, movie studios, etc., around the world. It is the engine on which Epic has built its own Fortnite.
Epic says its ban affects not just Epic. It will also affect a lot of developers who are using the engine for developing various solutions for various Apple platforms.
Without Apple’s support, Epic won’t be able to update the Unreal Engine so developers can use it to create the content they want for various Apple platforms. This not only affects new projects but will also halt several projects which are already on the way.
CAN EPIC TAKE ON THE BIG 2
But a bigger question remains. Does Epic have the resources to fight Apple and Google?
The question is a valid one. Both Apple and Google are trillion-dollar companies, the former being the most valuable company in the world. Epic meanwhile is a billion-dollar company.
Epic remains optimistic. And for good reason.
Until a few years ago, console platforms didn’t allow the cross-play feature. Meaning Xbox users couldn’t play alongside or against Playstation users. Sony in particular was against this, citing various reasons.
Users were frustrated by this. And so were a lot of game development companies.
But finally, Sony too had to relent. The popularity of Fortnite meant that cross-play was beneficial for all parties. Now users from multiple platforms can play the game from the same lobby.
Epic might be hoping they can bring forth similar changes in this case as well. But we’ll have to wait for at least a few more months to find out.
AN EVEN START
A preliminary ruling was made on 24th August regarding the Apple vs Epic case. The judge, in this case, made a split decision.
In the case of the Unreal engine, the judge ruled in favor of Epic. While in the case of pulling Fortnite off the App Store, she ruled in Apple’s favor, ruling that they can keep it blocked for now.
The full hearing is scheduled to start in September this year. No matter what happens, this will be a lawsuit that will go down in the history books.