Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney has called out Google and Apple on Twitter following a lawsuit over the removal of Fortnite from app stores.
David and Goliath: billion-dollar company takes on trillion-dollar companies. Epic Games has sued Google and Apple after backlash for violating in-game payment guidelines with Fortnite.
The popular battle royale is no longer available for download on any app store. How would you respond to #FreeFortnite?
As Epic Games became sick of the tax imposed by the Play and App Stores, Fortnite went over Google and Apple to directly receive in-app payments from its customers. The two trillion-dollar companies responded by taking down the game from their respective stores.
With over 350 million registered players and with companies like Apple taking up to 30% of all in-app purchases, it’s hard to not see where Epic Games is coming from. But does this justify their subsequent actions?
“Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In relation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming “1984”.”
The 20% discount on V-bucks (Fortnite’s in-game currency) for direct payments to Epic Games led to the game’s removal from both platforms, and was the basis for the lawsuits against the trillion-dollar companies. Here’s a small citation from both lawsuits:
“Google has eliminated competition in the distribution of Android apps using myriad contractual and technical barriers.”
“Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation.”
The moral basis behind the lawsuit makes sense (let’s just ignore any possible ulterior motives for the moment). These companies do have an immense degree of control over the content we see and don’t get to see. Without the app stores, it’ll be impossible to legally play Fortnite on iOS devices, and Android users will have to download the .apk file outside of the Google Play Store.
But then again, these are the Apple/Android smartphones we are using to play games. Epic Games did, after all, violate the payment guideline to side-step the ‘tax’. If countries around the world impose trade tariffs, if real-world product contain GSTs, can we really say that Google and Apple are being unfair?
Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney has been vocal about his thoughts on Twitter.
Although the right to download and play Fortnite should not be classified under the same human rights (I mean, we are comparing Fortnite to food and safety here), it’s important that developers are not being pushed around by companies such Apple. It’s important that small-time developers (a lot smaller than Epic Games) are given the opportunity under the spotlight to ensure a better developer-user relationship.
A thick grey line of moral ambiguity lies in the middle of all of this, meaning there isn’t really a way to determine who has the moral high ground, regardless of the lawsuit results. It’s important that everyone carefully examines the issue from all sides in order to develop an informed opinion.