Epic Games has filed a lawsuit against Apple over the removal of Fortnite from the App Store.
It wants you to think that its actions are true of heart and for the betterment of the industry. Not to mention gamers. It's all bullshit though. The lawsuit is stupid. Yet Epic at every turn has tried to make things seem as if this whole situation is to improve things for players and developers.
It's not. Not really. Epic isn't doing this out of the goodness of its own heart. It's doing this because Apple wouldn't give in to its requests for a special deal for Fortnite on the App Store. If things turn out better for developers, great.
But that isn't Epic's direct intention. Actions speak louder than words. And Epic's actions don't ring true of a noble cause to stand up for all developers on all platforms.
Basically if Epic got it what it wanted to serve its own monetary purposes and nothing changed for any other developers, it would probably stop these battles with Apple, Google, Steam and the like.
Make no mistake. Epic Games doesn't care about anyone else but Epic Games in this battle. It's trying really hard to bring gamers into the legal fight though. A fight which really just boils down to a few multi-billion dollar companies (that's multi-billion) squabbling over who gets more of your money.
Epic Games has turned this Fortnite lawsuit into a circus
Instead of being a legal battle between solely Epic Games and Apple in court, Epic has turned this entire situation into a circus.
That seems very clear by its announcement today about the upcoming FreeFortnite Cup this Sunday. Where players can participate in a solo tournament to win prizes. Those prizes? Android devices, PS4 and Xbox One consoles, the Nintendo Switch, and an Alienware laptop.
All devices where Fortnite can still be installed and played. There's even a FreeFortnite hat with a logo that mimics Apple's original multi-colored logo and some available in-game rewards.
The game content of that tournament? It includes fighting against the "Apple Regime" and the ability to earn skins for your character that mock the company it's fighting in court. All of this has transformed from a legal battle over fair and competitive practices into a dog and pony show over who cares more about the customer.
The answer is no one in this regard. Both Apple and Epic Games are wildly valuable companies who's CEOs are vastly rich. If either really cares about the customer and the developers, then they'd settle this legal battle, and Apple would agree to lower the store fee, while Epic would agree to pay it.
This in turn could lead to a big change in the industry. Forcing other companies to lower their own similar fees for game developers. But instead, we all get to witness this dumpster fire of a legal battle that is the Fortnite lawsuit, that Sweeney himself says he's prepared to fight for literal years until he gets his way.
A little hypocrisy never hurt anyone, right?
Tim Sweeney loves to refer to Apple's App Store as the App Store monopoly. And to be quite honest he's not entirely wrong.
Apple's ecosystem is more or less a walled garden. You play by the rules or you're not allowed in. It's as simple as that. This…. this kind of sounds familiar though. And that's because this is basically the same thing Epic Games has been doing on PC by snatching up exclusivity rights to games.
Since the Epic Games Store has been available, Epic has been plunking down huge amounts of cash to secure the exclusive rights to sell a game. Bot just any old games mind you. But large, AAA titles. Such as Borderlands 3, Shenmue III (which was promised very early on to backers that it would be available on Steam), and most recently, Hitman 3.
Epic locked down Metro Exodus too, as well as a number of high-profile indie games. Epic is basically the pot calling the kettle black here. Telling mobile gamers that Apple is bad for banning Fortnite and not allowing it to bypass the App Store fee, all the while telling PC gamers that if they want to play certain games on PC, that they have to play through Epic or not at all.
To be fair, Epic's exclusivity rights are timed. So they don't last forever. Nevertheless, this is still a hefty dose of hypocrisy that Epic just expects people to drink up and look the other way without questioning its own methods. Another reason why the Fortnite lawsuit is a little bit ridiculous.
There's no "oppression" going on here
As a consumer in a capitalist country, I can understand that Epic wants to make more money from its hard work. Developing Fortnite surely took no small amount of effort.
That said, building an ecosystem like iOS and the App Store surely took no small amount of effort either. Apple didn't just amass billions of users overnight. So it deserves a cut of the money made from items sold through its storefront.
Having to pay that fee is not oppression. Epic would have you believe that it is though. Recreating Apple's old 1984 ad that references rising up against a totalitarian regime is the start of those attempts.
Creating a hashtag like FreeFortnite continues those attempts. But all it's really doing is weaponizing legions of gamers to take up digital arms and defy Apple's "evil empire."
It's a tone-deaf reaction to Apple's response to a clear violation of its policy rules. What it's not is a battle of the people fighting against a true oppressive regime that's trying to take away real freedoms.
Apple of course isn't innocent here. In recent email exchanges between the two companies discovered today, it refers to Epic's decision to bypass paying the fee as "shoplifting." Which is to say the least, a pretty ridiculous comparison.
Credit where credit is due
Despite Epic Games turning this legal battle into a circus, it deserves credit where credit is due. A 30-percent cut for a processing fee is exorbitant.
Yes, it is an industry standard. Apple is not alone in charging this same percentage for a fee. That doesn't mean that it shouldn't change.
Apple also has the right to make this decision to ban Fortnite. Epic did after all violate its rules. AFTER asking to be let out of the fee completely and to allow its own storefront on the App Store. But something needs to change in how revenues are split between the companies that deal with games, and the developers that make those games.
Developers should get more of the money made. Store front owners, like Apple and Google, should get less. But not nothing. And rules are rules. Regardless of whether we agree with them or not.
If there's anything that comes out of this Fortnite lawsuit, let it be a more fair percentage of game revenues for developers. Regardless of how small. As consumers, the only thing we can hope for is that this legal battle ends sooner rather than later.
That way we can all move on from it and go back to enjoying games instead of being asked to take sides and throw rocks and wave pitchforks.