When the Apple and Epic Games drama started, I was skeptical over Epic’s purpose and their true intent. As the days passed and more information came to light about Epic’s argument, their intent became clear; to claim ownership of something that isn’t theirs.
Let’s backtrack and remember why this all started. Apple since the beginning of the App Store has had in place a simple, and transparent in-app purchasing system. The system allows developers to easily implement purchases within their apps that unlock and provides new capabilities to users. Without the system, developers would have to rely on 3rd parties that may not work, or offer a stable and secure experience.
From a user perspective, it provides comfort and peace of mind that purchases made are safe and convenient. All of this happens within an app that comes from the App Store. From a business point of view, it costs Apple real money to run, and operate the App Store. From the servers, data centers, staff, and upkeep time, it’s not cheap to run an online store that securely houses billions of apps.
In order to off-set the cost, Apple has a simple method that Epic Games has turned into an overblown issue. If an app wants to offer in-app purchases, it has to use Apple’s system. When they do, Apple gets a 30% commission of any profits made from the purchase.
Steve Jobs explained it best in 2008.
In protest of the system which Epic has gotten at odds with, it rolled out a direct-payment method for Fortnite that bypassed Apple’s system, which not only broke their developer contract but is also stealing money from Apple.
By using the direct payment method Epic Games would be profiting off of something that is only possible because of Apple. If it wasn’t for Apple running the App Store and making the products that they run on, Epic Games would not have made $840 million from Fortnite in-app purchases.
As a result of Epic’s breach of contract, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store and suspended Epic Games’ developer account. Epic claims the moves are “retaliatory,” and what followed is a massive legal battle that is now set to continue until next year.
In legal hearings and court filings, Epic Games is claiming that Apple’s actions are hurting its business. Epic wants the narrative to be that it’s the innocent child from God and that Apple is the evil demon that’s trying to rein down and destroy it. The truth is, Apple has done nothing wrong.
Epic says that because of Fortnite not being on the App Store, it’s getting impacted. That’s not surprising when around 73 million people play Fortnite exclusively on iOS. But whatever impact Epic is feeling from Fortnite’s absence on the App Store is pain it caused itself.
Let’s not forget that Epic Games broke its contract with Apple, and if Epic had an issue with the 30% policy, it shouldn’t have signed the contract in the first place. The last time I checked the “Common Sense 101” book, it says to read a contract before you sign it. In Epic’s defense, Apple’s developer contract is and non-negotiable, but Epic isn’t trying to change that, it’s trying to alter the core App Store business model.
Apple by removing the game from the App Store was only doing what it would do to any other developer who broke their contract under the same circumstances. And yet, Epic is the one that’s attempting to paint itself as the “I’m perfect” child and make it seem like Apple is the bully.
What Epic wants is to be able to offer users another form of payment method other than Apple’s own system for apps that are distributed via the App Store. An email that Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney sent to Apple’s Tim Cook, Phill Schiller, and others read:
1) Competing payment processing options other than Apple payments, without Apple’s fees, in Fortnite and other Epic Games software distributed through the iOS App Store;
The biggest flaw from that request is that the reason that Apple’s in-app purchasing method exists, and why it must take a 30% cut is because it runs and operates the App Store, exactly like Steve Jobs explained. As Apple noted in recent court filings, in-app purchases that take place without its system is theft.
There is a simple fix that would end Epic’s pain of Fortnite not being on the App Store. A fix that Apple themselves has stated would work; remove the direct-payment method from Fortnite.
It’s a simple fix, but one that Epic will not let purse. See, Epic views its fight with Apple as a fight for all developers who feel Apple exerts dominance over the App Store. True or not is left for argument, but Epic thinks that if it removes its direct payment method, it’s somehow waving the white flag and admitting defeat.
But, it’s the complete opposite. If Epic is truly in this fight for the greater good of users and other developers, it would not place its users in the middle of this. Fortnite users did nothing wrong, and yet, they’re are being used as hostage by Epic to get what it wants, ownership of Apple devices.