The other day, Epic and Apple finally faced off in court to decide if Apple’s 30% cut is a fair amount of money to take from Fortnite, and every other app that’s being sold on their storefront. This day in court has been a long time coming, and while we’re not any closer to a verdict, a lot happened that warrants recounting. So, let’s get started.
First thing first, this was a public hearing, which meant people were allowed to watch. However, due to technical difficulties, these members of the public weren’t automatically muted, which meant that the hearings were plagued by rowdy brats. It took a long time to get the crowd under control, but eventually it did happen and the case could proceed.
Moving right along, when the trial finally got started, the first interesting tidbit to show up was when the court submitted a 25-page publisher contract Epic Games had gotten from Nintendo, presumably as part of the courts attempt to establish exactly how the industry works and operates. The 25-page paper was, unsurprisingly, heavily blotted out: Nintendo being as private as it is, they censored more of the paper than most government bodies ever do. However, as Kotaku pointed out, there was one interesting tidbit that left uncensored: apparently, Nintendo refuses to work with companies that are associated with the Yakuza, or organized Japanese crime.
The next interesting tidbit we learned is money related: namely, that in 2018 and 2019, Fortnite alone made Epic Games $9,165,000,000. Over 9 billion dollars. This means that Fortnite is by and away the biggest moneymaker for Epic Games, as we also learned that the Unreal Engine, by comparison, “only” made $221 million in revenue, whereas the Epic Game Store brought in $235 million. Another interesting tidbit: in 2018, Fortnite made nearly 2 billion dollars more than it did in 2019. While two points of data is hardly enough to point out a pattern, it does suggest that Fortnite isn’t making as many mad stacks as it used to… although 2020 being the pandemic year might have given them a pretty huge cash injection.
Speaking of cash, we knew already that Epic Games was losing money from all the free games it keeps handing out, but we didn’t know exactly how much they had lost before today. Specifically, to give away around 40 games, Epic Games had to spend $11,658,000: a lot of money to you or me, but pocket change for a company routinely raking in billions from Fortnite. Unsurprisingly, they paid more for Triple-A games (Batman Arkham cost 1.5 million dollars) than they ever did for indie titles (RHIME only set them back 45k), although the cheapest game of the lot was Metro: Last Light, which they were able to secure for 0 dollars and 0 cents. Another note of interest is that this was an extremely cost-effective way to get more users — Epic Games was able to get nearly 5 million new users with this exercise, and on average sent $2.37 to get each one. That’s an insanely good ratio. So Tim Sweeny’s enthusiasm at losing money suddenly makes a lot more sense.
Oh, and finally, Tim Sweeny was asked if he could identify the 3 major game consoles. He could.
All in all, an educational day for people who have always wanted a peak behind the curtain of the video game industry. Let’s see if other court days are as interesting… or as revealing.