So, yesterday, Epic Games revealed new ways to directly purchase Fortnite fun-money, V-bucks, for Android and iOS users, and rather than going through Google and Apple’s official channels, people could get a 20 percent discount by buying these V-bucks directly from Epic Games itself. This was clearly the latest move in Epic Game’s greed-fueled one-man crusade to squeeze even more money out of their $17 billion game, but their effort to pinch pennies backfired when, in retaliation, both Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their official app stores.
Apple, who moved first, said this:
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 it’s 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.
While Google, who acted a few hours after Apple, only said this:
“While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”
Now, there was no way this was a mistake: this was a deliberate move by Epic Games to circumvent Google and Apple, who have historically taken a 30 percent cut of all sales made by apps on Android and iOS systems, respectively. This is hardly the first time that Epic Games has had a little hissy fit over that 30 percent cut, but this is certainly the most daring attempt to undermine it.
Now this was already ridiculous, both because Epic is being stupid and because Google and Apple are being greedy. But what’s turned this situation into a parody of itself is the fact that now, Epic Games is “taking a stand” by taking Google and Apple to friggin' court over this and asking that their fans rally behind them as they try to “strike a blow” against those greedy cats at Apple and Google.
In a complaint for injunctive relief against Apple and Google, Epic said this:
Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear. At a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history.
They went on to call the 30 percent cut Apple and Google take both “Exorbitant” and “Oppressive.” And while that may be true for smaller companies, Epic Games is taking a legendary amount of piss with this. I mean, look at this goddamn video they put out trying to “rally the troops”:
So to make it perfectly clear, a multi-billion dollar company is asking you to help it fight against other multi-billion dollar companies for the right to drain your wallet. And using 1984 (and taking a page from Apple's old Macintosh Commercial) as the point of comparison? Mother of grace, either the people at Epic Games are blind and stupid or they think their audience is – and judging by how many people appear to be unironically rallying around Epic Games for this insultingly trite dick measuring contest, they’re probably right.
Oh, and as Kotaku has pointed out, other multi-billion dollar companies, like Spotify, have started applauding Epic Games for “taking a stand.” Which just makes this whole thing feel… just so much grosser.
Look. You can’t not take a side on this. Either you’re pro Epic Games, or you’re pro Google/Apple – even saying “you don’t care” is a vote for Google and Apple. And while I think Epic Games is being childish and selfish and spewing more bullcrap than the entire US ranching industry, a win for them here would be a win for mobile developers of all sizes everywhere. So I guess I’m begrudgingly in the “underdog’s” corner.
But holy hell, guys. This is some of the dumbest, most annoying crap I’ve seen in a long-ass time.