I could honestly talk about this all night. I will not even try to hide my contempt for Tim Sweeney and the Epic Games. I think he and his company are ridiculously hypocritical in their comments about openness (when it suits them) and fair play (when it does not apply to their own store). I have no patience for a company that does some of the things they complain about Apple, so everything they have said today has fallen on deaf ears.
To prevent me from getting off on the deep end of ranting about this, I will keep it short and only hit a few points.
This whole thing is just a PR stunt
Sweeney knows that the lawsuit will not be successful. Most tech analysts who are worth something have already admitted just as much. The whole event was obviously prepared long in advance and choreographed carefully. Epic knew that Fortnite would get the trunk from the App Store as soon as they blew their noses at Apple, and everything was set up to hit as soon as it happened.
If Sweeney knows he will not win anything significant in court, what is he looking for? Today was all about publicity. He knew that the technical press would fall over all this, and he was right. He got attention, both positive and negative, and a lot of it. This is not about the court. It̵
Why did Epic go this route?
They want to encourage players and their fans against Apple to help push for what they want. By standing up to look like the good guys who only gave discounts to their customers by walking around the big, bad monopoly, they framed Apple as the ultimate villain. Not only did Apple revoke this rebate, they blocked the app and future updates. Most fans of Fortnite and Epic will not care that they deliberately broke the rules and knew exactly what would happen.
The irony is that Epic did not even pass up all the savings from offering in-app purchases, but their own payment system to customers. They also had room for some of the savings. More on that in a moment.
The ugly truth
Part of the reason I find all the attitude and self-serving, aggrandizing of Tim Sweeney so annoying is that the tech press seems good at setting up a billionaire in charge of a $ 4.5 billion company as the champion of the little guy. This is completely ridiculous, but I have to leave it to Sweeney in a way. The technical press is myopic enough to eat it up and fall for all his conversation while ignoring his and the company’s actions.
Let’s get it right here – this is a battle between a multi-billion dollar company and a $ 2 trillion company to make more money. Forget openness, justice and any other company or developer besides these two. This is about money. Period. Epic wants more and will not give much, if any, back to Apple. Or Google either, as we found out later.
What are the implications?
Tim Sweeney says he wants to blow up the App Store. Forget all the talk about Apple being fair and open. Epic wants to do all it can to make more money, and they are willing to try to abolish Apple’s right as a business to determine their own distribution methods to achieve that.
I think it’s extremely unlikely that the lawsuit will succeed, especially with a conservative Supreme Court, but Sweeney knows that Apple is unlikely to crack down and Epic has enough money to drag things out for a while. They also know that the trial process will only add to the anti-Apple and Big Tech sentiment. I’m sure Epic will try to use this to pull off a deal.
However, Apple is far from helpless. Their legal team will be bigger and more practiced on this type of thing. Although there is a lot of anti-Apple sentiment at the moment, the company is still making enormous political efforts, including with the President of the United States. This is a field Epic cannot play on.
The last part is the key. So far, Epic has been spared any effects from President Trump’s potential ban on TicTok and payments to Tencent. However, there is a potential scenario where Epic and Fortnight are suddenly cut off on their knees due to their large Chinese investor and the president’s attitude towards China. While this is possible, I actually do not think Tim Cook would lobby for it because this same ban hurts him in China if the iPhone loses access to WeChat.
What Tim Apple believes will not necessarily prevent Donald Trump from taking unilateral action against Epic. They are now in the news of getting a company he has often been associated with, and they are supported by a Chinese company he already has an ax to sharpen with. This is one way all this attention can strike back at Sweeney.
Epic showed his hand later in the day
You want to know how I know Tim Sweeney is full of it when he talks about openness and justice? Why is Epic suing both Google and Apple? At the very least, they have a reason to attack Apple, even if it does not stay in court. Sure, Google also charges 30% in the Play Store. However, they do not block users from loading apps or using alternative app markets. Epic announced this approach with Fortnite on Android when it first came out.
Despite all their talk about Apple, Epic goes after Google because they whine and cry that the experience of downloading or creating their own store is understandard and that Google makes it harder. Epic finally sobbed and brought Fortnite to the Play Store not so long ago, but they ran the same gambit on them today as they did with Apple, with the same end result. They were launched from the Play Store and then Epic sued immediately. The only thing missing was the cheese video.
This lawsuit against Google cleared everything up for me. Tim Sweeney and Epic are not least interested in anything other than paying on zeitgeist to be in both large App stores with little or no cuts handed over for in-app purchases. They have their opportunity for “freedom” and “justice” they are allegedly seeking on Android. It’s pretty obvious that this is not really what they want. Honestly, it’s all marketing and PR nonsense.
All of this is 100% about Epic cashing in and getting more money by cutting into what Google and Apple do on transactions. It will be interesting to see if anyone who covers tech will ever call them out on it.