Slasher Shares the Reasons Behind the Epic Games Fortnite Lawsuit
What a wild week or two it’s been for esports and online gaming! Epic Games owns Fortnite and began discussing “alternate payment methods” for their in-game currency. This is to counteract Google and Apple’s incredibly high fee of 30% on each transaction made on their platforms. This would have put more money in Epic’s pocket, while also saving some money. This chain of events led to Apple pulling Fortnite from their platform, and Epic Games suing Apple in response. Recently, Rod “Slasher” Breslau went on Fox Business to discuss this Epic Games Fortnite lawsuit of Apple and its means.
There’s a lot of talk on both sides of this argument. It’s a trillion-dollar company versus a billion-dollar company, and they are arguing about who is right. Some say that this is about China’s (Tencent’s) stake in Epic Games. But let’s be honest. This is about Tim Sweeney of Epic Games. This was his decision, and it’s in line with his general line of thinking.
At least on Google Play, you can still play Fortnite, which we covered here.
A Situation Snowballing Wildly Out of Control
Who is right in this situation, though? This is an Antitrust issue. Antitrust laws prohibit shady and dishonest business practices—price-fixing, monopolies, and corporate mergers are likely to ruin the competitive nature of the market.
Apple is well within their right to charge whatever they want; after all, it’s their platform, and the same goes for Google, Sony, and any other storefront that houses free-to-play content. Epic Games tried to get people to spend less money on a storefront that houses their game, save the player money, and put more money in their pockets instead of Apple’s.
Here’s a solid example. Typically, 1,000 V-Bucks (Fortnite’s currency) cost $9.99 on the Apple Store. However, through Epic Games directly, you would spend $7.99. It might seem like peanuts, but that two bucks add up after a while. Apple’s response was to take Fortnite off its platform, which resulted in Epic Games suing Apple.
In the lawsuit filed, Tim Sweeney and Epic Games state that most payment companies (EG: PayPal, Stripe) have a fee of about 3%. Apple’s is 30%. This creates what Epic Games calls in their Fortnite lawsuit, “Anti-competitive practices,” and harms competition on that particular storefront. Epic, of course, also want to have Fortnite back on their platform.
With this in mind, Rod “Slasher” Breslau recently went on Fox Business to discuss the situation, which you can find in that link. When asked about what the end game is in this situation, here’s what he said:
“Epic’s CEO, Tim Sweeney has been, this has been kind of a personal thing for him. He’s been a huge advocate against Apple’s mobile app store, and he’s mobilizing his company and the biggest game they have, Fortnite, to try and make things fair for what he says, is all developers in the world.”
Rod’s not wrong here either. Tim Sweeney has gone on record multiple times to discuss how he feels about Apple, and what this lawsuit means to him. Sure, what Epic Games did was probably against the terms of service for the storefront they were using (Apple), but it’s a move that makes sense when you consider Tim Sweeney’s personal ethos.
Here’s a quote from a recent series of tweets from Tim Sweeney:
“At the most basic level, we’re fighting for the freedom of people who bought smartphones to install apps from sources of their choosing, the freedom for creators of apps to distribute them as they choose, and the freedom of both groups to do business directly,” Sweeney tweeted. “The primary opposing argument is: ‘Smartphone markers can do whatever they want.’ This as an awful notion. We all have rights, and we need to fight to defend our rights against whoever would deny them. Even if that means fighting a beloved company like Apple.”
This isn’t about getting billions of dollars out of Apple. It genuinely sounds like Tim wants to make things fair for everyone involved in the game development process. What was Apple’s response to the lawsuit? Was it a counter-suit? No, it was something far more damaging and petty! Apple’s move is to see about having Epic Game’s toolkit removed from their system.
A significant number of games on the Apple platform rely heavily on the Unreal Engine. PUBG? Kiss that goodbye! Apple’s move in this game of Chess is to try and heavily bully the other company into likely dropping the suit. It’s honestly repulsive that Apple decided to actively harm others in their bid to come out on top.
A Heated Back and Forth
At the beginning of this situation, Epic Games fired their own salvo at Apple with a take on George Orwell’s 1984. If you haven’t read the book, you may remember the Futurama episode with the sleazy ’80s guy. The commercial they made to take shots at “Mom’s Friendly Delivery Company” is a direct parody of a commercial Apple made against Macintosh in the 80s. Epic Games created this brilliant commercial to shoot at Apple, in the same way.
Fortnite, whether you like it or not, is the definitive global game. It’s a game that you can (or could before this kicked off) play anywhere. With anyone, on top of that! Whether you played on a cellphone, PlayStation 4, PC, Xbox One, anywhere, you could play with other people around the world, on any platform. It was a cross-platform game. Slasher points out that Tim Sweeney works for a more open platform, whereas Apple is the most closed platform possibly in the world.
You aren’t allowed to run your store to download games on iOS, for example. Google, on the other hand, does not deny other storefronts to run on their platform. This could have seriously far-reaching consequences across gaming and online store.
Fox Business also asked Slasher about this being an Antitrust issue. They asked him who he thinks is right in this argument.
“Well, I will say that Epic has gotten some very high-profile lawyers on board that have a lot of experience in Antitrust cases, and they wouldn’t have jumped on this case if they didn’t think Epic didn’t have a real shot at taking down Apple,” he said. “And while it is both Apple and Google, Apple is much more of the focus here, including the ad that Epic had already had pre-produced, ready to go, and the lawsuit ready to go, because they knew Apple was going to do this. They wanted to try and change the way Apple looks at the entire ecosystem, they want it to be a little more like Google, and have things a little more open, have developers to create their own stores on the platform if they want to.”
Slasher points out that just a month ago, we had congressional hearings about Antitrust issues, and now we have an instance of it in gaming! If you didn’t know about the Antitrust hearings in Washington, we don’t blame you. This story has way more heat on it because of video games, we guess. Slasher also points out that many in Congress/Senate are pretty technologically ignorant. On the opposite side, most people in the esports/gaming bubble are tech-savvy and understand the problems.
Slasher thinks Epic Games has a real shot at changing how things are at Apple (or at least on their storefront) with this Fortnite lawsuit. Honestly? We’re in the same camp. The way Apple handles these kinds of things is deplorable. Sure it’s their platform, but that doesn’t make their business practices fair or reasonable.
If Apple loses this lawsuit, they aren’t going to be out of business or anything. Apple, as a company, has more money than they could know what to do with. Worst case, they lose, Fortnite re-enters the iOS/Google storefronts, and perhaps their business practices could get a little fairer. Do we expect Apple to allow other storefronts on their platform? No, but anything could happen.
This is certainly a fascinating situation, and one to keep an eye on. It’s not a “David and Goliath” story. This is Godzilla versus Mecha Ghidora at best. Where do you stand on the issue? Try not to look at it through a lens or liking/disliking Fortnite. Instead, consider the implications this has on gaming in general. If Apple changes how they do business, games on their platform could make a more reliable living, and free-to-play games on iOS could be an overall better experience, from a financial standpoint.