Epic Games vs. Apple


On August 13, 2020, Fans of Fortnite (rated age 12) were in for a rude surprise when they logged in to their iOS device to play the game. It had been removed entirely from the platform. Apple’s action sparked a larger controversy over how games are distributed and how much power the distributors can wield over the companies that create the games.

The game was removed because Epic Games, the company that makes the game, changed the fee structure without asking Apple for permission. Epic dropped the price for V-Bucks, an in-app purchase that can be used to purchase in-game cosmetic items, such as outfits and emotes. This drop in price by 20% violated a deal between the two companies. Apple was to receive 30% of all in-app sales, so this price decrease affected Apple as well.

Since 30% of players used an Apple device to play the game, Epic definitely took a hit financially, but they weren’t the only ones. For the next couple of days after the ban, Apple’s stock went down, so it wasn’t just Apple who lost money short-term after the ban; it was other stockholders who owned stock in Apple as well.

Google did the same thing as Apple because Epic Games did not keep the deals they made with Apple and Google.

On Monday, September 28, Apple and Epic went to court in San Francisco, California, via a Zoom call. Epic Games was suing Apple for what they believed were unfair practices. It was a 3-hour Zoom call, judged by Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers.

Judge Rogers said that Epic Games was using “dishonest tactics” in the hearing against Apple. She did not agree with Epic, who argued that Apple had harmed the distribution of Fortnite in the App Store.

A few days after the ban, Epic Games mocked Apple by recreating Apple’s “iconic” 1984 Super Bowl advertisement, “Macintosh” commercial, as a response to the ban. Whenever players across all platforms logged in to Fortnite, they would see Epic Games’ version of the ad and then a screen that says #FreeFortnite. On that screen, Fortnite said that Apple and Google had a monopoly because they banned Fortnite from operating on those systems.

In an effort to spread the word, on August 23, Epic Games launched the #FreeFortnite Cup. If players scored ten points, they would unlock the exclusive “Tart Tycoon” in-game cosmetic that Epic Games gave out for Fortnite players across all platforms. Epic also gave away #FreeFortnite hats to the top 20,000 players globally. Epic Games even gave away gaming hardware and consoles to the top 1,200 players, whom they started referring to as “apple-eaters.”

Examples of the prizes are a Razer gaming laptop and an Xbox One X. (All platforms that still carry the game).

Epic Games later announced that the last day that players who play Fortnite on iOS and Google Play would be August 27, the last day before Epic Games launched “Chapter 2, Season 4” of Fortnite. iOS and Google players can still play it if they had it previously installed on their device, but with no updates. Currently, iOS players are playing in Chapter 2, Season 3, and are playing with/ against mostly artificial intelligence (AI) players/bots until the issue is resolved if it does.

Judge Rogers said that for decades, gaming companies with consoles have had “walled gardens,” or the ability to enable a restriction and prevent access to certain things on the internet. Apple placed a walled garden on Fortnite. Judge Rogers stated, “That is just how the industry works. You (Epic) are asking me to just simply ignore the industry, which I can’t do.” There will be an official date, sometime in July of 2021, for an official court hearing.

Epic can keep Fortnite on iOS devices that already have the game installed, but with no updates, and it takes up a lot of space on people’s devices. For me, it takes up about 14GB. I have an iPhone XR with 64GB, so it takes up a decent amount of space. Don’t forget; this will most likely have to last for at least ten months until the official court hearing in July 2021. Epic probably won’t be able to hold on much longer, maybe until January or February of 2021, before players discover cheats, glitches, and hacks to make the game unfair. Whenever Epic releases an update for Fortnite, they usually “patch” or get rid of most cheats, but then another cheat is usually introduced accidentally with the update due to an error on Epic’s side. Because players will probably discover glitches, hacks, and cheats to make an unfair competition for the other actual players on the server. Once they are there, they are there because Epic will not be able to patch them (get rid of them) because that requires an update, which Epic can’t do.