Sunday, 16 August 2020 21:58

Epic battle heats up – Fortnite dev now suing Google too Featured


Epic Games is used to people fighting online inside its popular and lucrative game Fortnite, but now the software house is taking its fight to the courtrooms against big guns Apple and Google.

iTWire reported on Friday Epic Games had lodged a lawsuit against Apple. Within hours of that story, the lawsuit expanded to include Google.

Epic took the move after Google kicked Fortnite off its Google Play store for Android devices. Apple had already removed Fortnite from the iOS App Store earlier in the day.

The problem for both Apple and Google is Epic Games released an update to Fortnite which actively encouraged iOS and Android players to buy their in-game currency, V-Bucks, direct from Epic Games instead of using in-app purchases. Epic offered players a discount as an incentive to do so.

This contravenes the guidelines for both mobile storefronts, which states any in-app purchases must use the officially sanctioned methods for those storefronts - for which, of course, Apple and Google take a cut.

It's clear Epic Games was seeking to bait these companies given the speed in which it lodged its lawsuit and published a big brother 1984-themed animation that parodied Apple’s own 1983 ad campaign to promote the Macintosh computer.

Meanwhile, Epic Games has received encouragement from Spotify, who, like Epic Games, says it brings lots of cash to Apple and Google from in-app purchases and subscriptions.

A spokesperson for the music streaming service stated, “We applaud ‌Epic Games‌' decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple's abuse of its dominant position. Apple's unfair practices have disadvantaged competitors and deprived consumers for far too long. The stakes for consumers and app developers large and small couldn't be higher and ensuring that the iOS platform operates competitively and fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching implications.”

However, the end game for Epic doesn't appear to be simply getting a bigger slice of the in-app purchasing pie, but to have its own mobile storefront and payments platform and have all the pie.

Section I.D.90 of Epic's lawsuit states "absent Apple’s anticompetitive conduct, Epic Games would also create an app store for iOS.”

Just as Microsoft Windows users have the options of the Microsoft Store, Steam, Epic Games, Origin, uPlay, the Blizzard launcher, and many more, so too Epic wants a world where both iOS and Android are opened up to allow vendors to have their own app through which customers can buy their software.

Apple's defence is likely to focus on the security provided by having a centralised, reviewed and policy-based application storefront. Currently, iOS users have reasonable confidence the software they install is not malicious. Without Apple’s close supervision users have no assurance of their device’s security and health, it is anticipated they will say.

It's surely a battle royale for mobile device stores shaping up. The result is sure to have a significant impact on how people can use their devices, on pricing and on mobile monopolies.

UPDATE: Apple now intends to remove Epic Games' developer account completely.

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David M Williams

David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. David subsequently worked as a UNIX Systems Manager, Asia-Pacific technical specialist for an international software company, Business Analyst, IT Manager, and other roles. David has been the Chief Information Officer for national public companies since 2007, delivering IT knowledge and business acumen, seeking to transform the industries within which he works. David is also involved in the user group community, the Australian Computer Society technical advisory boards, and education.

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