Recap of today’s events:
- Epic used a server-side update in Fortnite to bypass the iOS App Store and Google Play Store to display a new payment option run by Epic. This option for in-game digital goods bypasses the 30% Apple/Google fee entirely and passes on the “savings” to the consumer.
- Apple kicked Fortnite off the App Store.
- Epic filed a “complaint for injunctive relief” against Apple.
Epic’s Tencent connection and anti-Linux history have been troubling for a while, but on the other hand 30% has been seen by some as overly-steep for years now. I don’t really agree with the “monopoly” argument against Apple – Apple customers know what they’re buying into, and that’s a closed ecosystem tightly controlled by Apple. Not being able to sideload or use alternative app stores is a feature, not a bug, for Apple customers. And clearly they don’t have a monopoly on smartphone OSes (22% share), but the argument they have a monopoly on iOS app stores doesn’t hold much water.
US antitrust law seems to mostly focus on whether a company’s practices hurt consumers / raise prices, and that seems to be what Epic’s going for with their stunt here – “clearly” showing the “Apple tax” raising the price of Z-Bucks or whatever the fuck (god Fortnite makes me feel so fucking old… I didn’t feel like this when Minecraft blew up, I understood that…)
The fight is mostly Epic vs. Apple, though (at time of post) it remains to be seen if Google will kick the app too. Epic tried to launch their own Android app store but “caved” and started using Google Play because “Google makes it really hard to sideload.” (Ignoring that 1. sideloading is a possibility you don’t get on non-rooted iOS, and 2. it’s hard by design as sideloading is a potent malware vector, and Google’s content partners probably see it as an open door to piracy.)
It’s possible Google doesn’t take it down, because their Play Store terms give slightly more leeway to this kind of thing last I checked… but it has been a while.