Epic Games faces an uphill battle in fight with Apple

Jamie McKane

MyBroadband Journalist
Mar 2, 2016
Epic Games faces an uphill battle in fight with Apple

The legal fight between Apple Inc. and Epic Games Inc. kicks into full gear on Monday with decisions that will influence the future of app stores in the U.S. and how the world’s largest technology platforms make money from developers.

U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers will decide whether to force Apple to let battle royale video game Fortnite back into the App Store with Epic’s in-house payment option. She will also rule if Apple can block third-party apps using Epic’s Unreal Engine development software.

This battle is gonna be Epic!

About time somebody did something about these monopolies.

I'm looking at you MicroSoft, Apple, et al.
Nobody not initially at least, good odds of going to trial, which could take years.
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Not just Epic, also Match Group (Tinder) Spotify, Facebook, EU anti-trust, and quite a few others
I expect that the judge will rule that Apple was within its rights to block Fortnite, and it would be in the right to block Epic's account that it sells games on. Unreal will remain on the store and will be unaffected.

Here's where Epic's case is going to suffer:

On Monday, the judge will consider if Epic is likely to succeed on the merits of its antitrust claims and whether the company will suffer irreparable harm if she doesn’t issue an injunction.

If Epic can't have Fortnite on iOS that's not a train smash. It's basically 50% of all Fortnite revenue down the drain, but they still have other avenues to sell Vbucks to gamers and there are other platforms they could support better. If it was to remain blocked on the platform, Epic would continue on and nothing serious would happen to them.

The issue with this ruling is that the judge will have to spend time deliberating on whether a duopoly is as bad as a monopoly when one company's policies deny you access to 50% of the mobile market in the US. Is that monopolistic? Is it an abuse of power? That's the difficult one, and it'll be what makes this case relevant to other players in the industry.

> Google may change its policies if the Fortnite case ends up favoring Apple, said Lewis Ward, an analyst at researcher IDC.

No they won't. Epic can already have their own app store available on Android, and they can have their own payment scheme. Google doesn't have to do much, it just has to allow sideloading to continue. It's unlikely that Google is somehow blocking the Epic Games store from being shipped on Android devices, because other stores already exist that Google has no control over. It's more like Epic wanted to be on smartphones out of the box, but the payments that the providers expected for that privilege showed up that Epic is far too cheap.

> “It has raised the profile of Epic from an already well-respected game company to one that has a philosophy or a vision of where the games industry should go over time,” Ward added. “That vision is one that is more aligned with how the internet began, which was open and free and cheap.”

What Epic really wants is to open up the US market to a Tencent store on iOS. What they really want is to be able to bypass parental control schemes and have kids spending money on Vbucks. What they want is more money. They don't care about the philosophical exchanges people are having about these issues, they couldn't give a ****. They weaponised their young fanbase to turn the tide of public opinion against Apple (and it hasn't worked). They've already demonstrated that they began the suit in bad faith and they are not likely to win the judge's favour because of it.

There's also the case where other vendors on the App Store are able to negotiate lower payment fees and take a bigger cut if they offer subscriptions. Epic could have taken that route and ended up with more money at a 15% fee to Apple, but Epic has already proved that it's far too cheap and also too greedy to ever accept any kind of fee from a company they perceive to be their competitor.
This battle is gonna be Epic!

About time somebody did something about these monopolies.

I'm looking at you MicroSoft, Apple, et al.

That depends on your perspective regarding who is allowed to control the app ecosystem. Epic could always manufacture their own smartphone and app distribution platform so that players can buy epics hardware and pay epic directly on their own platform.
I support device-based ecosystems, but I also support other ‘marketplaces’ to coexist with said device-based ecosystem. In my view, any ecosystems need to be enabled to compete within another ecosystem. First thing which will be brought up is security (and privacy) concerns, but I believe this choice should be the user’s decision to make.

Fragmentation will become more widespread unless competition is allowed.

A company like Apple would view this move as making their device secondary to the user’s use. Tooth and nail they will go.