Apple and Epic have been bogged down in a battle between both of them which has ended up blocking Fortnite for iOS devices. Amidst the most recent blows, Apple made the accusation that Fortnite was a failing game which had been trending downwards for months, and that this entire conflict, from the anti-Apple ads, the #FreeFortnite campaigns, and so on, were all a coordinated marketing scheme to revive Fortnite.
Is Fortnite in need of revival?
Right out of the gate, Apple’s claims about Fortnite are dubious. Apple’s claims go much further than simply suggesting that Fortnite is merely “trending downwards” and extend to the point of saying that Fortnite is in need of a jump start. The implication is that Fortnite was desperate to take action which would help it maintain cultural relevance, but this ignores many key facts.
First of all, was Fortnite in need of this kind of marketing campaign? Not likely, and in fact Fortnite took a fairly large hit to its player base as a result of this feud. Secondly, Fortnite has already cemented itself in the cultural zeitgeist, both by being the most successful game in the world two years running, and through its Party Royale events.
Additionally, according to Epic, “Epic's actual user engagement data reflecting the actual number of users playing Fortnite (not Google search results) shows Apple's claim of declining interest in Fortnite to be incorrect. Over the period of time that Apple cherry-picked for its Google search volume comparison (between October 2019 and July 2020), the number of daily active users on Fortnite actually increased by more than 39 per cent.”
It’d be much more accurate to say that Fortnite has peaked, and any “downward trend” is almost certainly a result of it having achieved such a great height that the only way forward is down. No one stays on top forever.
A more accurate claim might be to say that Epic, recognizing that Fortnite has achieved a peak of sorts, decided to use its position to affect the future of gaming across multi-media platforms, and to create a more equal space for future development projects they might have in mind.
How has Apple done in this feud?
Considering how many Fortnite players tend to be on the younger side, a demographic more easily swayed by advertisement, it’s fair to say that Apple will likely lose something no matter the outcome of this fight, which is possibly why it’s being a bit more deceptive in its claims.
With Fortnite no longer available on iOS devices, many school age children and teens are likely to eschew Apple devices for Android phones or laptops. Even as Apple has turned the iPhone into a status symbol, it’s not likely that gaming teens are going to ask for an iPhone that can’t even play Fortnite with their friends, and this likely worries Apple.
Inversely, if Epic should win the legal battle, even bringing Fortnite back wouldn’t recover the profits lost from losing the ability to demand a 30% cut of all revenue generated from people who sell through the Apple controlled marketplace.
Apple is a trillion dollar company, of course, and even a large hit to its revenue is probably manageable, but it’s nevertheless noteworthy that Apple’s stock has fallen almost a full 25 points throughout the month of September.