Epic Games & App Store Fees

Epic Games & App Store Fees

It’s been in every gamer’s mind: the current spat between Epic Games & the Apple/Google Play stores. If you haven’t heard, Epic disagrees that they should give a 30% share of each IAP to the Apple App Store and Google Play, so they pushed out an update that offers “Epic Direct Payments” which gives gamers the option to pay Epic directly for IAPs instead of going through Apple Pay (Apple’s IAP payments gateway) and Google Pay (Google’s IAP payment gateway) in exchange for a discount to IAPs.

This violates the Apple App Store and Google Play developer agreements around acceptable payment methods for in-game items, I only have a Steamworks Partner account but the wording is pretty much the same:

You must not offer an alternative payment method for in-game purchases other than what Publisher [Valve] states is allowed.

For this reason alone I really don’t know how Epic expects to win their lawsuits they filed against both Apple and Google… the terms of the respective app stores are binding and therefore there’s no possible way Epic can win. Or is there?

It’s obvious the purpose of this lawsuit is to force a judgment against both Apple and Google in terms of creating restrictions on what both parties can do within their app stores:

  • Apple App Store: is a 100% monopoly, not possible to bypass this to install apps, without software modification (jailbreaking)
  • Google Play: is also a monopoly for the vast majority of users, but it is easy to install apps from outside “the system”.

When treating both as separate cases, Epic is most likely to win against Apple but likely to lose against Google. Unlike Apple, Google is able to argue that users are not forced to download and install apps via their app store, that Google Play is a convenience more than a necessity and that users are welcome to install apps from outside Google Play.
Moreover, Epic does offer the Android version of Fortnite available for download directly from their site; the removal of Fortnite from Google Play is just a minor inconvenience.

Epic has been planning this for a while, they knew exactly what Apple’s and Google’s responses would be!

A few hours after this happened, Epic submitted a 72-page court document for their intent to sue both Google and Apple. This was clearly planned months in advance and Epic was well aware of what the response would be, effectively both Apple and Google did exactly what Epic expected them to do

This is a game of chess where Epic has made a move that’s resulted in “check” for both Google and Apple. The question is this: are Google’s and Apple’s moves both going to result in checkmate, or is the endgame going to be reversed with Epic losing on a massive scale?

Fortnite Mobile represents hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue for Epic, they aren’t going to back down easily.

I’m not a mobile gamer, so why should I care?

Woah, slow down! The 30% fees are standard across the board, Apple, Google, Steam, they all use a 30% fee model as standard. Any ruling will also affect other platforms such as Steam, so if Epic wins you might find Steam reducing their fees, which means cheaper games (if you buy directly from Steam).

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