Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few weeks you will of heard of some issues between the Video Game company Epic Games, Creators of Unreal Tournament and Fortnite, and the Global Tech powerhouse that is Apple. But what exactly is going on here and why is it such big news? let’s take a look.

Almost a year after Fortnite’s launch, the hugely popular battle royale game hit mobiles, much to the joy of fans everywhere. The game amassed a staggering 100 million downloads in the first 5 months and all seemed well from an outsider’s point of view, but Tim Sweeney saw it differently. Sweeney claims that they only went to IOS App stores as this was the only way to enter Apple’s EcoSystem. 

The Straw That Broke Apples Back

The relationship between Apple and Epic Games has always been tumultuous but on Thursday the 13th of August 2020, Epic Games finally added the straw that broke the App Stores back. Epic Games have been very open with the fact that they are not happy with the 30% fee that Apple tax all digital apps on the IOS App Store and on the 13th of August Epic Games added a 20% “V Bucks” discount if you circumvent the IOS Payment provider and use PayPal or Credit Card, which is very much against Apples terms and conditions.

Apple’s statement on the breach of terms is as follows:

“Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users. As a result, their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.

Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem – including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”

But Was It All Planned?

Within 24 hours of being banned from the IOS App Store, Epic Games filed a 60+ page lawsuit against Apple (and Google) claiming antitrust violations and accusing them of holding a monopoly over App Stores. 

Epic Games also fired back at Apple (again, within 24 hours) with a parody of ‘1984’ called ‘Nineteen Eight-Fortnite’ where they clearly state that they have “defied” the “App Store Monopoly” and in retaliation have been blocked from a billion devices.

Standing Up For The People Or Profit?

Once the dust of the 13th had settled, Epic Games CEO Time Sweeney tweeted this:

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.

Another argument against supporting #FreeFortnite is “this is just a billion-dollar company fighting a trillion-dollar company about money”. But the fight isn’t over Epic wanting a special deal, it’s about the basic freedoms of all consumers and developers.

Finally, there’s nothing wrong with fighting about money. You work hard to earn this stuff. When you spent it, the way it’s divided determines whether your money funds the creation of games or is taken by middlemen who use their power to separate gamers from game creators.

The court case could take years to come to any definitive conclusion but I am sure this will be a case closely followed by mainstream media for a while to come.

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