Fortnite developer Epic Games is suing Apple and Google after both companies pulled Fortnite from their stores. The game was pulled from the Apple App store and Google Play just hours after the Fortnite team announced a new policy which allows players to buy V-bucks at a 20 percent discount when buying directly from the Epic Store rather than a third-party platform.
An Apple spokesperson said that the new V-bucks discount violates the App Store’s guidelines regarding in-app purchases, in a statement to the Verge. A Google spokesperson echoed the same response in regards to Google Play.
This is a bold move by Epic Games, but not a surprising one. CEO Tim Sweeney has criticized the 30 percent cut that Google takes from all products sold on Play.
“The 30 percent store tax is a high cost in a world where game developers’ 70 percent must cover all the cost of developing, operating, and supporting their games,” Sweeney told Gamasutra.
It should be noted that this is the industry standard (Apple claims the same percentage on App Store products) but Unreal Engine Marketplace (Epic’s own store) swapped to a 88/12 percentage model in July 2018 and even retroactively paid creators back to match the new policy.
Epic Games also launched a social media campaign to rally against Apple. The official Fortnite account tweeted a video that is a clear reference to the famous “1984” Apple commercial, which itself was made as a soft protest against the perceived monopoly that IBM had over the computer industry at the time. Indeed, Epic’s lawsuit against Apple claimed that the company has become one of the massively powerful mega-corporations it once criticized.
“Fast forward to 2020, and Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic said in the complaint. “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear. At a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history.”
At a valuation of $17 billion dollars, Epic is hardly an underdog itself, but these latest lawsuits have been raising more questions about equity in the gaming industry and what developers and publishers owe each other.
If you liked this story, check out In The Know’s article on an artist accusing Epic Games of using her viral roller skating dance without credit as an emote in Fortnite.
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