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Epic Games CEO compares Apple dispute to civil rights movement

Epic Games CEO and founder Tim Sweeney has compared the Fortnite dispute between his multi-billion dollar company and Apple to the US civil rights movement.

The legal dispute stems from Apple removing Fortnite from the App Store following Epic Games attempting to circumvent the former’s payment system. After filing a lawsuit in the United States, Epic has now begun legal proceedings here in Australia.

In a press release, Epic stated that the fight against Apple’s monopolistic practices is for the sake of consumers and smaller devs; consumers should not be paying the increased price as a result of Apple’s payment processing fees and smaller devs should have support from Epic to utilise the Unreal Engine.

Fortnite Landscape Epic Games
Image: Epic Games

As reported by TechCrunch, Epic CEO and founder Tim Sweeney decided to take it one step further. During the New York Times DealBook Online Summit, he stated:

“And that’s why Epic mounted a challenge to this, and you know you can hear of any, and [inaudible] to civil rights fights, where there were actual laws on the books, and the laws were wrong. And people disobeyed them, and it was not wrong to disobey them because to go along with them would be collusion to make them status quo.”

Yes, the white CEO of a multi-billion dollar company decided to compare a corporate dispute that does not jeopardise his livelihood or status as a human being whatsoever to the struggles of a still-marginalised group of people who fought for basic human rights.

Despite the fact that this comparison should have never been made, Sweeney decided to use a foolproof solution: get on Twitter and double down. The 50-year-old CEO “explained” that his company’s fight could be compared to the civil rights movement because both situations were about fighting against “wrongful” rules.

As absolutely no-one could have predicted, the Twittersphere blew up from Sweeney’s explanation. One user pointed out that Apple were holding Epic accountable for a corporate contract that the latter intentionally breached, whilst people of colour never had a choice about being discriminated against.

Other commenters chose to frame the insignificance of a company wanting to make a few extra million dollars in revenue compared to the civil rights movement fighting for basic human rights.

Regardless of your stance on Epic versus Apple, its hard to not cringe at Sweeney’s comparison and just wonder that perhaps there is such thing as too much money.