It’s the talk of the industry and one that could have lasting repercussions on the local and global gaming sphere. Developers of Fortnite, Epic have once again taken to flexing its muscles by baiting Apple and Google into reacting to its latest attempt at circumventing their respective platform protocols.
For the uninitiated, the summary of the escalation began when Epic provided the Fortnite community with an outlet to buy Vbucks (the in-game currency), outside of the Google Play and Apple store. Both platforms reacted by removing the game from their store fronts. It was a move Epic clearly anticipated because they swiftly responded with two wordy lawsuits and a parody ad of 1984 designed to galvanize their fanbase into standing against Apple and Google.
For an eco-system working overtime to be accepted as a hot bed for gaming IPs of top tier quality, watching the squabble between the financial heavyweights of Epic, Google and Apple is akin to an unwarranted and unavoidable spat between heirs to a throne of diamonds. Already in positions of power, influence and wealth, but there is always more to attain.
Nick Hall, founder of Playtopia/Make Games Africa event as well as legal counsel to some renowned South African studios was leaning on Epics side. “I’m notionally on Epics side. If they win we potentially see the breakup of 70-30 across a lot more store fronts AND the ability for bespoke payment providers, which them opens up the local market more and makes it more viable for us.”
I will say it’s a but dodgy that Epic is essentially weaponising its fan base to assist in fighting this legal battle, but I am assuming that this is in part because the case is being fought in the US and will likely have a jury deciding on it,” he added.
Macharia, a Kenyan developer also voiced his support for Epic saying, “Apple has monopolised their ecosystem and needs to be checked. As a dev, seeing 30% of your revenue gone just like that is not ideal. They deserve a cut of course for the infrastructure they have put in place but 30% is too much. Also from a consumer standpoint, this could lead to apps/games costing less.”
Epic has priors railing against the status quo. In 2018, the popularity of Fortnite forced the hand of Sony (who were the console market leader and had been vocal against cross-platform capabilities) to open up their platform thanks to the popularity of their game.
They followed this up by launching the Epic Game Store as a developer friendly alternative to Steam in late 2018. Boosted by the cash cow that is Fortnite and under the banner of fighting against antitrust and anticompetitive practices by both Apple and Google, they are likely to get a lot of people on their side. Change and competition is always welcome, but it might be wise to temper championing Epics motives. There is no true altruistic ideology and with this set to drag on for a while, it could potentially be a case of whoever ends up winning, we all lose.