I woke up this morning to the news that Epic Games, a plucky corporate underdog worth $17 billion, was trying to enlist the world’s help in taking on Apple’s “anti-competitive” practices. And my skin wanted to crawl right off my body.
In case you’re just joining us, earlier today Apple booted Fortnite from the App Store for violating its payment policy. Epic Games, the creators of Fortnite, responded quickly by filing a complaint of legal injunction against Apple.
In addition to the legal struggles between the two companies, which are essentially built around a disagreement over the fact Apple takes 30% of App Store money, and Epic doesn’t want to pay that, Epic Games also launched a concerted public relations campaign built around a parody of a TV ad made (by Apple!) at least 15-30 years before most Fortnite players were even born.
I don’t have the time or emotional bandwidth to delve into just how fucking stupid this video is, enlisting the spirit of resistance to totalitarian government (already diluted by appearing in an advertisement) to...get people onside in their quest for some more money.
I would, however, like to give a shout out to the people responsible for looking back at the last ten years of video game community relations and deciding that “weaponising a fanbase of angry gamers” was a really healthy and fun thing to do here.
So let’s instead move right onto the legal battle itself, which has already seen plenty of people taking sides. That’s an easy, and very human thing to do! Fortnite players on iOS (and now Android as well) will want their game back. Other companies equally frustrated with Apple’s sizable cut of their profits have someone to cheer on from the sidelines.
People who don’t like Epic, meanwhile—and there’s no shortage of them in the video game space—can root for Apple, and people who like Apple have someone to defend their favourite home and mobile computing company against.
Before you go deciding to take a side in this, though, keep in mind shit like this:
Ah yes, Spotify, fellow champions of the people, who pay the artists at the heart of their service an average of $0.00318 per stream, and whose CEO complained earlier this year that albums aren’t being released fast enough. Real feel-good stuff.
So perhaps the safer thing to do is not take a side at all, right? Maybe, but that’s also complicated! Despite claiming to do this for the benefit of everyone, Epic is obviously doing this for Epic, but Apple’s store policies are terrible, and any kind of progress made in this space would greatly benefit a lot of folks, especially smaller studios and indies.
If that sounds like a similar dilemma to the one at the heart of the Epic Games Store v Steam debate, that’s because...it’s almost exactly the same situation.
In the end, then, there is no right or wrong here, no champion or underdog. It’s just 2020's latest example of everything sucking all at once, and all we can do is sit by and watch helplessly as it continues to suck even more.