It's quite a consensus among the gamer base that Epic Games' Fortnite Battle Royale is by far one of the most popular video games on both the PC and the Mobile platform.
Hence, it getting banned from both the Google Playstore and the iOS app store, comes as quite a shock to many. However, we feel that from Epic's part that it was a pre-emptive strike on Apple and Google's monopoly of the App developers base.
The ban of the application on both these stores came moments after a Fortnite update was rolled out, which allowed players to buy in-game currency at much lower rates, only if they bought it directly from Epic Games, bypassing both Apple and Google.
Apple usually takes a standard 30% cut of sales "from its compulsory payment system", and this decision from Epic Games did not sit well with them at all. According to Apple, Epic had taken, "the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines".
And it's because of these very guidelines that Apple had previously had problems with a lot of other app developers and not just Epic games.
Epic Games file a lawsuit: Their actions have been pre-emptive
Now, in all honesty, we believe that Epic Games was hoping for such a ban to happen so that they will be able to take Apple to court. Which actually they did with this legal complaint, which got filed minutes after Fortnite was banned from the Apple store.
The Fortnite devs even went a bit further and referenced a 1984 apple commercial, which showed an Orwellian dystopian society (as depicted in the novel 1984), where Apple plays the part of the liberator who frees the masses from the clutches of an authoritarian regime (IBM).
It's quite a general consensus among the gamer base that Fortnite Battle Royale is by far one of the most popular video games on both the PC and the Mobile platform.
Referencing the video, Epic games writes in the complaint that "Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation."
Another curious piece of media, which makes us feel that things are currently going according to Epic's plan, is the interview video that Joseph Kim took with Tim Sweeney (founder of Epic Games) on 'The Economy of the Metaverse'.
Almost halfway into the video, we see Tim Sweeney more-or-less narrating what is going on between Epic Games and Apple at the moment, as if the events had taken place days before the interview.
When talking about the monopoly that the Apple store has over the monetization of their app, he is depicting circumstances which goes to show that Epic Games has planned for all of it, and the lawsuit really shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
Moreover, in a tweet made a couple of hours ago, Sweeney, writes, "Today, Apple said Epic is seeking a special deal, but that's not true. We're fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers. And it'll be a hell of a fight!"
Along with the call for arms, Sweeney references an article called Tinder and Fortnite criticize Apple for its 'App Store monopoly', by The Washington Post which was published on the 17th of June.
A section of the article reads, "Earlier in the day; the European Commission announced two investigations into how the iPhone maker treats competitors on its App Store and in its mobile payment system. The probe into the App Store was brought on by Spotify, the music-streaming service that has complained loudly about alleged mistreatment by Apple, and by an unnamed distributor of e-books and audiobooks."
Hence, the growing dissent with Apple's monetization policies has, in a way, culminated into the war that is being waged by Epic Games.
Some of the particulars in the lawsuit might hint at a larger goal
Needless to say, the European and the US congress have been closely looking at the business practices of Apple for some time now, and this lawsuit from Epic Games is not going to do them much favor.
But Epic is not looking for any monetary compensation according to the court filing. Fortnite is already a very lucrative cash cow for the company. Hence they are not looking for money, but perhaps something much more valuable.
"Epic Games is seeking injunctive relief to allow fair competition in these two key markets that directly affect hundreds of millions of consumers and tens of thousands, if not more, of third-party app developers," the court filing says. "But for Apple's illegal restraints, Epic would provide a competing app store on iOS devices."
This won't be the first time that Epic Games are looking to disrupt an already established gaming market. It has already tried to do it unsuccessfully with Steam, to take over the PC market with its very own Epic Games Store.
According to the game industry analyst, Piers Harding-Rolls, the Apple situation is very similar to the Steam one, where "Epic's store charges game developers 12% on PC games, compared to Steam's 30%."
Piers even goes on to suggest that, "Apple and Google have been a long term target of Epic CEO Tim Sweeney's ire, as he believes the 30% revenue share they charge for app sales and in-game monetization is too high. However, taking on Apple is a different challenge than in the PC market as it's impossible to build a third-party storefront on iOS, or monetize apps outside of the App Store."
So as tensions rise between Apple and Epic Games, Piers puts a lot of things into perspective and tries to merit both sides of the same coins.
In one tweet, he writes, "Epic is positioning this lawsuit as a move to improve the commercial conditions of all app developers. If Epic gets its way, there is no doubt that the iOS app landscape will be forever changed and that those changes will ripple through the Apple dev industry /10."
And in another follow-up tweet, he suggests that "Apple App Store has created jobs for 100,000s of developers and is home to 10s of thousands of successful businesses. There are two strong sides to this argument. However, I don't expect the outcome of this to be a radically altered iOS experience for end-users. End. /11"
Hence, how the mobile app purchases for the developer and the consumer are going to change is anybody's guess, but the broader video game community doesn't seem to want 'Big Brother' to win when the dust finally settles.