As Apple kicks Fortnite out of the App Store, maker Epic Games retaliates with allegations of monopolistic and anti-competitve behaviour, writes Laura Swinton
On the Island, the clock has just struck thirteen. Epic Games and Apple have just erupted in a fallout of, well, epic proportions, with the maker of Fortnite accusing the Cupertino giant of behaving like Big Brother – and trolling them with a parody of their famous Ridley Scott-directed ad, 1984.
But the hyper-competitive Epic Games was laying in wait – and just minutes after the news became public, announced that they were taking legal action against Apple, and would be streaming a live announcement within the Fortnite game itself. That announcement was an almost shot-for-shot re-enactment of the iconic 1984 ad, suggesting a rigorously planned military manoeuvre on the part of Epic.
A statement, published by Verge – before the broadcast of the spoof and the announcement of Epic’s legal action – said the following:
“Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users. As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.
“Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem - including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”
Epic, meanwhile, has leant into a more antagonistic (if entertaining) tone with its own legal statement (which can be read in full here).
“In 1984, the fledgling Apple computer company released the Macintosh—the first mass-market, consumer-friendly home computer. The product launch was announced with a breathtaking advertisement evoking George Orwell’s 1984 that cast Apple as a beneficial, revolutionary force breaking IBM’s monopoly over the computing technology market. Apple’s founder Steve Jobs introduced the first showing of the 1984 advertisement by explaining, “it appears IBM wants it all. Apple is perceived to be the only hope to offer IBM a run for its money . . . . Will Big Blue dominate the entire computer industry? The entire information age? Was George Orwell right about 1984?”
"Fast forward to 2020, and Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation. Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear. At a market cap of nearly $2 trillion, Apple’s size and reach far exceeds that of any technology monopolist in history.”
During the Covid-19 lockdowns around the world, the already popular Fortnite has become a popular social hub, and it’s Party Royale mode has hosted several ground-breaking live events. They premiered the trailer to Christopher Nolan’s upcoming movie Tenet to a live in-game audience of 12 million, and in April attracted a similar number to a live Travis Scott concert. On August 22nd, they will also host the DC Fandome, a first-of-its-kind in-game virtual comic convention. This is the first time, though, that they’ve broadcast a legal statement.