To Fight Apple and Google’s Grip, Fortnite Creator Mounts a Crusade

Aug 25, 2020 · 162 comments
Terry (NYC)
Great article! Being a developer for decades it’s disappointing to see Epic do this. Apple provides everything for developers; evolving coding framework, updates, support and tons more. Without them, we would not have seen the evolution in gaming or mobile usage that we see today. It feels like these companies like Apple, Spotify, Facebook - who each one have gotten extremely rich thanks to Apple - should either work out a better business model to make money (god knows how much consumer data they collect and sell to advertisers thanks to their apps) or leave the App Store store. Apple is taking the high road and staying calm, a reflection on the company that they are. It’s selfish of Epic to go out and jeopardize hundreds of companies that rely on the UE engine and the App Store. Seriously, think a bit more about that when you drive your Ferrari to work Tim.
RS5 (NC)
Note that this article doesn't mention the attempt by Tim Sweeny to mobilize CHILDREN against Google and Apple. Last I checked, corporate propaganda targeted at children is illegal.
Dee (New York)
This article reads like it was written by Epic's PR department. If his objections to Apple taking a percentage were based on principle, then Epic wouldn't take a percentage for games sold on the Epic Store. However, Epic does, and this lawsuit has nothing to do with principles. It is about Epic making more money. If he cared about things being "fair and open," then Epic wouldn't sign exclusivity deals that stop games from being sold on platforms other than the Epic Store.
Luke (PA)
@Dee Emphasis on fair. 30% is a much larger take than Epic's 12% . Regardless of Sweeney's motives, it's clear that Apple and Google left their founding values at the door when they elected to charge such exuberant fees to operate in their ecosystems. Being the only game in town is a one way street to an antitrust suit.
Terry (NYC)
@Luke Only game in town? Amazon, HTC, Samsung, Oculus etc all has app stores. Apple and Google are the best ones in creating consumer products that sells and are complimentary with app stores for entrepreneurs to build businesses around. Are you also questioning road tolls, plane tickets, your mobile bill, ATM fees, Uber fees etc? Fees the companies are collecting for using a services with infrastructure they invested heavily in for you to benefit from?
Dejah (Williamsburg, VA)
Has ANYONE in the technical "press" noticed that the greatest common denominator with ALL the companies which are "fighting Apple and Google out if *PRIN-ci-ple!*" is... TENCENT Chinese money. Oddly, enough, the Chinese government ALSO has an undeclared war on American tech companies. Google and Apple among them. You don't have to be a tech journalist to notice, but it HELPS if you are a gamer and note that Tencent owns large pieces of 7 out of the top 8 mobile games. FOLLOW THE MONEY.
Ellen (NYC)
When Apple decides what software and content you can install on your phone, then they have become the Big Brother they railed against so may years ago.
Aram (Massachusetts)
I think many are missing the point. We now have a class of computers (phones) where the software you run on them needs to be approved by the phone makers. Apple has rules about what is acceptable and, and they take 30% of everything you sell. (Unless you're Amazon..). There is some value add to this (apple process the credit card, provide software development kits etc). However the rules are strict: you can't link to your company website from the app if you sell anything there (going around the apple store). You can't try to reclaim the "app store fees" by including it in sales made from you app. Not infrequently apple blocks some app then does a 180 when developer sentiment turns south. They could block/ disable the NYTimes app if they found the content there "objectionable". It boils down to, do you the user have a right to run any software you want on your own device? Apple has a monopoly on iOS software distribution. Its their hardware, but there are really only 2 options in the phone Operating system space (iOS and Android), which as a developer means you have to use their stores to sell software. Imagine if microsoft decided you could only run software sold by them on windows?
Retired Misfit (PNW)
@Aram Microsoft has always allowed users to run any software they want on their Windows PCs, even though unverified device drivers can be a vector for malware. Downloading from the Microsoft Store is supposedly more secure than from random websites, but I'm grateful to MS that I'm not (yet) required to use it. I can still also side-load Android software (from F-Droid, not the Play Store) without having to pay Google tax. Thanks, Google! Phones are different. While there are hobbyists who root phones and install custom operating systems on them, cellular providers discourage or prohibit the practice as it could lead to installation of stuff that would break cellular networks (i.e. by increasing the phone's output power to more than is necessary).
Massi (Brooklyn)
Apple does have a “monopoly” on iOS software, because they wrote, own and maintain iOS, which is itself software. Apple doesn’t even sell it, they license its use for free if you buy a device designed to run it from them. I remember a time not long ago when operating systems were purchased separately from hardware. And if you are clever enough to write a different operating system for your iPhone and make it run on the device, probably nobody can stop you, but you might as well take advantage of the free offer from Apple. If you buy software in the App Store, it’s essentially an “in-app purchase,” because the App Store is itself essentially an app. Apple has decided that it’s worthwhile for them to allow competing software companies to sell software products alongside Apple’s own, because it makes the hardware more useful and valuable. I believe Epic has a much more strict “monopoly” on Fortnite software, in the sense that nobody else can sell things within the Fortnite app, as far as I know, even if they would be willing to share the revenues with Epic. Should there be competition within Fortnite to keep the quality of their in-app offerings high and the prices low? Maybe. Is it odd that a company making millions off of their closed platform is complaining about the rules set by the owner of an open platform? Definitely.
M (The midst of Babylon)
Fortnight has been putting dances created by and made popular by minority content producers into their games. They have refused to give them any credit or royalities, and have had their lawyers say that dances cannot be intellectual property. I feel no pity for them, they're getting a taste of their own medicine. Go Apple!
Still Waiting... (SL, UT)
Note he is silent regarding his biggest cash cows, the game's releases on PS4 and XBOX. Both platforms which are as restrictive as can be when it comes to what can and can not be done with the hardware sell. And both also take large parts of the profits.
Steve (Seattle)
Given the email and text message bombardment from the Apple App Store on my phone and IPad the profits must be outrageous for them. I hope Mr. Sweeney prevails.
Eli (RI)
I asked my twelve year old son (an avid Fortnight player where he spends most of his limited screen time) what he thinks? They signed an agreement and broke it. He added with disgust they trick kids in spending money. He had zero sympathy for Epic and thinks Mr. Sweeney is a cheater.
GS (Berlin)
You should have mentioned that Epic's game store is a mess and absolutely inferior to Steam technologically. Epic does not even support mods! But they bribe developers into exclusive deals so gamers are forced to use the store even though it's terrible.
Jamal Qutub (Portland, OR)
“The market is out of control!” cried the Billionaire. Indeed it is.
Amir (Chicago)
Tim is negatively regarded in the PC Gaming community because of his mislabeled crusade for openness: he nixed Linux game support and promotes his store as a competitive alternative in the PC game purchasing market while trying to cobble market share by securing exclusivity agreements that restrict games from being sold beyond the Epic Games store. In the emails sent between Apple and Epic, he asks for the ability to have an Epic Games store as well as the ability to download software directly to consumer devices with Apple as the middleman, while claiming he will hold high security standards for Epic's software. He either does not understand why Apple users pay to partake in the ecosystem, or wants all the benefits without the costs. iOS users pay the "Apple Brand" costs because quality is baked in: we *want* apple to be the first and last word in creating and reviewing software and hardware and not a company that is 40% owned by Tencent, a Chinese games company. Apple has given to Epic the same tools it gives to all developers at the expense of the 30% cut Apple takes from purchases. This 30% is written on the wall when developers create Apple apps. Sweeney knew this when Fortnite came to iOS. Only now, when he has a powerhouse game and significant revenue streams, does he reneg on this deal he already agreed to.
Ellen (NYC)
@Amir - fine. Buy from the APple store and pay more for the 'quality' they bake in (ha). Or buy directly from the manufacturer. Bought a FOrd truck? Sorry you can only buy Ford Gas! Makes $ense. For Apple.
Not Pierre (Houston, TX)
Why doesn’t Apple charge 30 percent for every item I buy on the Amazon app? What’s the difference between a virtual piece of clothing and actually piece of clothing it they are both something my kid’s want? Why does Apple get to make that decision? Why can I directly but physical things on my computer or iPhone but bot virtual things? Doesn’t the same logic hold that Apple controls the platform so they should take their cut when it comes to physical furniture on the Wayfair app or site rather then furniture on the home building site? Apple won’t approve apps that charge for virtual items themselves but they will approve apps to charge for physical items themselves? How is that fair or capitalism? It is monopolist reasoning and Fortnite is right to raise this issue, which even congress didn’t really do when they’d chance.
B (OH)
@Not Pierre The difference is that either Apple makes an exception for Epic, or they open up the floodgates to malicious actors. It's not about Epic's practices, it's about keeping the iOS platform secure for all by not allowing these types of transactions - if they allow it, iOS will have many of the same security issues that the Google Play Store currently has. So Epic has neither your best interests or the best interests in good devs in mind - only profit.
Jennifer (Portland)
@B but there is an Amazon iOS app. Does Apple take a cut of every purchase made through that app?
Andrew (Raleigh, NC)
@Jennifer Apple takes a cut of digital sales, albeit at 15% rather than 30%. As for physical goods, there is no revenue for Apple.
Jim (PA)
Ooooh, he has the support of Spotify in his quest for justice? The same Spotify whose business model is built on reaming musicians by paying them a pittance for streaming their music? Wow, what a bunch of modern day Robin Hoods. Isn’t is amazing how when you are clawing for more profit it’s all a matter of principle, but when you are denying someone else their profit it’s “just business”?
Steen (Mother Earth)
Epic's turnover 2019 $4.2 billion with a "B". Where are they when user's accounts are hacked (such as my son's)? Google might charge a smaller app fee, but then they turn around ans sell all your personal data to the highest bidder. I for one am happy to pay the 30% Apple fee to keep my personal data safe. Unfortunately Apple has become the favorite piñata of the tech world due to their success.
Ricardo (Brooklyn, NY)
You seem misinformed. You don't pay the 30% fee. That's taken from the app's publisher. Google also does not sell your personal data to the highest bidder... They are the highest bidder. The create the tools to bring advertisers in. They aren't reckless with our information.
Dejah (Williamsburg, VA)
@Ricardo Any tariff of any sort is ultimately paid by the end user. So the fact that YOU as the user doesn't pay 30% up front does not mean they don't pay it.
Geoff (So Cal, USA)
Poor Tim! Signed a legal agreement with Apple, made a ton of money, and now wants even more money without having to pay for the infrastructure. What an idiot! He is going to lose this case in court big time.
Winstein (Chicago)
Epic Games wanted to sell games directly to consumers but did not want to build its own phone, console or hardware. The world had changed since the iPhone, Epic still longing the good old days of PC games.
Adam Ritenauer (Seattle,WA)
While the developer of unreal engine and fortnite is far from the Everyman you're making them out to be, I support their fight against these app store policies. There are smaller developers that get their profits zeroed out by these fees. Further apple and Google's interpretation of their policies can be arbitrary and sudden, leaving see developer scrambling to appease them.
Eli (RI)
@Adam Ritenauer how does 30% off, zeros profits for something that has no more costs of production after development? Magical math?
Jennifer (Portland)
Speaking of "magical", when is this magical after development? Maybe at end of life after nobody wants the game anymore.
DJG (New York, NY)
The one-sided moralizing of the finance articles in this publication have really taken a bizarre turn. Unquestioningly accept that a billionaire is on a moral crusade to save the internet because he dislikes the size of the fee paid to a game distribution platform? Please. There is a lot of gray area and complexities here, and counterpoints that could have (but were not) included. It loses all credibility when it glosses over Tencent's purchase of a portion of this company as some wonderful democratizing act that allowed the 'founder' to remain in control is crazy - search some of the stories that this paper has written about that company. It is a nice complement to yesterday's piece about Carl Icahn, utterly devoid of logic, which bemoaned the horrors of making money off shorts of mall real estate mortgages as profiting from misery (in trades where the counterparty was likely a bank or hedge fund that was happy to bet on the other side). And will probably be followed soon enough by an article about the terrible work conditions in the video game industry and how the employees of this company work for relative peanuts while the owners and executives make many millions.
Skip Bonbright (Pasadena, CA)
Epic breaches its contract with Apple and then sues Apple for enforcing the terms on the contract. Epic is after more money and trying to use the courts to rewrite the terms of their App Store contract.
Todd (Frisco)
@Skip Bonbright Yes Skip, you have summarized the article well.
Not Pierre (Houston, TX)
Apple’s contract is monopolistic when it comes to in app charges. There are no in app charges for Amazon.
Amir (Chicago)
@Not Pierre Amazon is a poor comparison and does not have a curated ecosystem with developer tools that rival apple's. If a developer were to develop an app, where would Amazon publish it? What stores does it have access to that make it a compelling site to develop and release apps on? Apple built its store with rules on the wall. Epic knew the rules when it published Fortnite to iOS.
Doomguy (Fifth Circle of Hell)
The whole battle-royale generation zed thing is a fad. Fortnight is to gaming what Yanni is to jazz, that is, it is very bland. Give me some John Coltrane like Red Dead Redemption 2, or any open-world game from Bethesda instead.
John (OR)
Seems all Sweeny is saying is, "spoiled gamers unite to make me rich because Freedom!"
David (Westfield NJ)
Sadly, the author is oblivious to the huge financial gain this owner of a $17 billion a year business can reap from his "crusade."
Wirfegen (Berlin)
If it's about 30 %, why is Epic not fighting Steam and GOG? 30 % is quite the standard in the industry (so far at least).
Jason (Midwest)
@Wirfegen Epic literally opened their own PC games store, Epic Games, in which they take a less than ten percent cut. You might call that fighting Steam and GOG.
Justin (CT)
@Wirfegen Epic is fighting Steam, they made their own Epic Games Store to be a competitor. But because they know they can't compete fairly, they're spending all of that giant wad of Fortnite cash by bribing game publishers with exclusivity deals. It's as anti-competitive as you can get.
John (OR)
@Jason - Good for them. Now they need to build a device or two. Then they can charge $40 for a make believe bit of armor and be Winning!
Rmski77 (Atlantic City NJ)
That’s great unless he just wants to take their place. Strange how that happens, isn’t it?
Michael Jay (Kent, CT)
If Mr. Sweeney is truly concerned with "principles," he could walk away from a product that lets people pretend to kill each other.
Grant Hancock (Raleigh, NC)
Oh goodness.. I wasn’t expecting to see that kind of comment. You’re right we are on the verge of no shooting games. And definitely it’s been proven time and time again that competitive shooting games cause people to be more violent. Can you name a few of those studies? Right. There aren’t any.
Amir (Chicago)
@Michael Jay There has never been a linkage between video games and violence. Even then, Fortnite is very childish on the spectrum of video game violence.
Fortnight is a silly child’s game. An “existential” threat to such a product should not be Apple’s problem. Nor is it Apple’s responsibility to provide that Sweeney needs to succeed. He knew the rules before he signed up. Now he thinks he is big enough to change the playing field. God knows I am no fan of apple, but I do hope that, assuming Epic won’t comply, Apple crushes it in court.
bksi (austin)
@Ed The problem is that Google/Apple/et al have gotten "big" in a business climate that allows monopolies and now use their clout (fees) to stay big. The proof of the monopoly is that there is no place else for Fortnite to go. There should be more than two (viable) OS/platforms. It's a failure of our gov't to regulate big business that Sweeney is trying to rectify in the only way that's available to him, i.e. the courts.
Grant Hancock (Raleigh, NC)
I agree with this wholeheartedly it’s just unfortunate that Epic is also a mega company with a value in the tens of billions and it’s hard to cheer them on when I’m pretty sure they tried to create a store and it’s hard to imagine they wouldn’t take a big fee too if their store is successful. Maybe I’m wrong but we need laws to bust up the megacorporations so we don’t need Epic Games/Tencent to do it for us.
Geoff (So Cal, USA)
@bksi There should NOT be two OS platforms for iPhone. You don't like Apple's rules, don't sell on their platform. It's pretty simple. Love how this is all being pointed at Apple when Timmy Tantrum is having the exact same spat with Google.
Futbolistaviva (San Francisco Bay Area, CA)
Remind me again why I should care at all about this guy and his company.
bksi (austin)
@Futbolistaviva You should be concerned about antitrust. Not happy with your phone? Try buying a non-Android or non-iOS phone that's worth it.
Todd (Frisco)
@Futbolistaviva Because he's fighting against oppressive capitalism which rewards the very few at the expense of everyone else?
Johnny (Chicago)
@Todd ....You think Epic is fighting against "oppressive capitalism"? Did you forget the /s?
Your Mom (Earth)
Dear New York Times, I want to read your paper, and access your content on your web site and mobile app but I don’t want to pay for it. Can I steal it from one else and not have to pay for it? Also, I was thinking about creating my own news reporting app. Can I copy and paste your articles and photos and publish them on my app? BTW, I don’t want to pay for this either. That’s what Epic wants to, even though the signed an agreement that clearly states what the costs are.
bksi (austin)
@Your Mom Actually you can "copy and paste" NYT articles (WaPo, LAT, etc. too). There is a NYT API that you sign up for and it "scrapes" articles and puts them on your own website. It's free and actually pretty easy to use. Re: your comment. Epic signed the agreement and now has declined to continue the contract. Epic is not in breach of their agreement. Sweeney's problem is that Google/Apple have a monopoly and should never have been allowed to get this big. Try getting a phone that isn't Android or iOS.
Todd (Frisco)
@Your Mom Yes, but if NYT charged $30,000 a month and you had to pay them to read the news, you might start to disagree with the arrangement as well. Never seen so many people line up to apologize for oppressive capitalism.
Your Mom (Earth)
@Todd I’d pay the $30,000 a month if I was making the kinds of sales that generate those commissions. I wish I had that “problem”!
Mike (Santa Clara, CA)
If you want to see what Apple has become, take a look on YouTube at Rick Beato's rant. He says pretty much the same thing as the article, along with pointing out how bad their hardware is now. If something breaks, the user can't fix it and you need pricey Apple adapters to even listen to music on your iphone, which don't work well by the way. I speak from experience.
A Significant Other (USA)
Mr Sweeney, like some Trumpian fanatic rooting for the justice and soul of America condemning immigration as the root of all Evil - This Mr Sweeney - is a willing pawn by his masters in Beijing who work the "soft power" death-to-America-capitalists at angle with as great a determination as the GOP convention tries to scare half of America into voting for them, while condemning the other half+ Destroy Google and Apple, and China has taken down culture of a significant level of importance - this is less about technology or open source or fair marketing in the eyes of Beijing. It about winning by tearing down real and imagined symbols of power. Rethink your campaign Mr Sweeney, you may twist the App marketplace to accept Fortnite, but beware your bedfellows at 10 cents - There is far more than games at stake.
Ernest Duffoo (Miami, Florida)
Not one mention of Epic’s interest in circumventing parental restrictions on in-app purchases and how much Epic stands to make without parental oversight.
Westley (Toronto)
Apple and Epic should both be busted up by antitrust laws.
Geoff (So Cal, USA)
@Westley Except for the obvious fact that they are not monopolies and don't engage in monopolistic behavior.
Amir (Chicago)
@Westley in case you forgot
Oh please. To all of you complaining about how Apple deserves the fee because they are a more secure platform, then why do they allow apps like Facebook on their platform? Facebook mines data from everything you do. Is that protecting consumer privacy? Also, Apple states that they treat all developers fairly which is a load of garbage. If that's the case, then why does Amazon get a special deal to pay 15%? Yes, Apple invented a modern take on the smart phone but without the app store, they'd have gone the way of the dodo bird. They need the app store and third-party developers to sell their hardware. It's a symbiotic relationship, one that Apple is abusing. Would any of you buy an iPhone if you couldn't run the third-party apps on it? The 30% tax is highway robbery. It would have been fair if Apple was a brick and mortar store where the cost of hosting / displaying software is high. The fact is that a lot of small developers don't make much of a living on the app store. Also, what business on this earth do you know makes 30% for doing virtually nothing? The cost of maintaining the app store costs a minuscule fraction of that. The 30% doesn't get you marketing. It doesn't get a special mention on the App store. You still have to pay for that outside the store which is expensive so the 30% turns into 60% or 70%. Apple is all about greed. As a small developer trying to just get by, I applaud Tim. Apple is now worst than Microsoft ever was back in the 90's.
Suzanne (San Diego, CA)
All I know about Fortnite is that my kid plays it endlessly, has become a de facto “leader” in her playing group (I hear her give directions to her team, like a Military colonel: “with me”, “fan left”, “behind!”), so much so that we have to put time restrictions on it.... and don’t get me started about the in app purchasing, the endless V-bucks, that she has mortgaged her dish-doing, laundry washing far into her future to be able to have “skins”, weapons, etc. Come on Epic, make some V-bucks earnable (more than they are). In that regard I miss the gentler days of Minecraft, where one purchase got hours and hours of quiet, creative play.
Ian (Berlin, Germany)
It's funny to see Tim talking about 'open and fair' platforms when he fights another battle against Valve by making a lot of exclusives for the Epic Games Store. Knowing that Epic would never catch up with Valve on PC he simply holds games ransom by bribing publishers with guaranteed sales. He claims that he's doing it for the benefit of the gamers too, but yet games cost the same on the Epic Games Store as they cost on Steam. Publishers simply take the money. I'd take this 'crusade' with a grain of salt as it might be as simple as Epic not wanting to give Apple and Google 30% of it's ingame purchases.
somebody (somewhere)
@Ian It is as simple as not being forced to route payment through Apple and give them 30%. Other apps are allowed to collect payment outside of Apple. You can do it in the ebay app. You can do it with every single app that you pay for a user/password some other way - e.g. just a basic email app like outlook if you have a pay level office365 account. Apple forcing payment through them is clearly anti-competitive. As Fortnite is an online game, the purchase isn't even tied to apple. You can buy items on one platform and play with them on another. They follow your account. Just like email you get in a pay office365 account makes it into the free outlook app on an Apple phone as well as it does into any other client.
Bob (Newburger)
@somebody With regards to your point about eBay: Apple doesn't charge a fee for physical goods purchased with their apps. That's why Amazon doesn't have to pay when you buy from their store, either. To your second point: Epic can avoid the fee, too, by not allowing in-app purchases. They can, instead, require those purchases by way of another platform, i.e. on the web, or the PC client. That's how companies like Netflix get around paying the fee, too. Doing it that way, however, reduces the chances of impulse purchases, and purchases by kids who don't necessarily know any better.
homer (SF)
Epic: We want access to your large, paying audience with trust in online transactions, an app store that does not do popup ads, an app filtering system that makes it safe for kids to transact on. Oh we also want that for free or for pennies. Thanks, now let us have our way. What I don't fathom is: the App store model did not spring up overnight. It's taken time to mature and investment from Apple to do so. From having truly innovative apps, to no-value clones, to creating systems that enable better discovery, filtering, personalization. Yes, you can argue that not all of it is effective. Fair dos. But to now say you want this for free or that it's unfair is - well, a bit much. For what it's worth - Amazon has payments outside the app store to consume digital content in the platform. That's a model worth exploring?
B (OH)
To everyone complaining about Apple allowing physical items to be sold on apps - there is actually a massive difference between purchasing a physical item and purchasing software through a third-party in their app. Physical items can't be laced with tracking software and malware. Epic actually had a massive issue when it released a third-party Fortnite loader on Android just two years ago - there were massive security holes from day one. Apple has every right to be skeptical of them. And it's not just about not trusting Epic to get it right - it is every single malicious actor that would LOVE for Epic to win so they can turn the iOS ecosystem into a security disaster. There's a reason why Android phones are much more susceptible to malicious attacks. I bought an iPhone for the security features, as did many consumers. Many people laud Apple for standing up to the government when it comes to phone encryption, but oddly miss that it's essentially the same concept here. I'm a techy person, so if things don't go Apple's way then I would learn how to work around it for my best security interests. Many non-techy people I know would not, so this is yet another unnecessary risk just because it "looks bad on Apple." Complain all you want about anti-trust, but this one does come with a very real cost.
Justin (CT)
He has zero desire to "rein in" the tech giants. He wants to BE a tech giant. Go look at the practices of the Epic Games Store. Paid exclusivity deals, anti-consumer tactics, spyware contained within the platform, the list goes on and on. He is not some virtuous underdog, no matter how easy it is to poke at Apple, Google, and Facebook.
Matthew Daniel (CT)
@Justin This post could be pulled of one of the hate subreddits. The Epic game store doesn't have spywayre. Anti consumer tactics? You mean offering MORE options to the consumer, and giving them many free games? Developers aren't having a gun held to their head to accept exclusivity deals. Weird, weird hatred of the Epic store stems from people just not liking to download a second store. That's it. Reddit groupthink is real.
Kauffa (NYC)
Yes this article brings up concepts of free market dynamics, but what about the actual game developers that are forced to work under extremely tight deadlines to satisfy the developers need for speed to market? I think it's only fair to bring the injustices many coders/developers face (sexual harassment from male colleagues, a labor market that has incredible turnover, physical and mental deterioration) from the likes of "crusaders" like Epic Games or other game developers.
qisl (Plano, TX)
I wonder how many judges there are who don't own Apple stock in one form or another.
Michael (Wilmington)
Too much power and money consolidated can only end badly. Imagine if the left believes in free markets and monopoly busting. Just a fantasy they really want control too. Little man what now?
Jim Lee (Beijing)
Most indie teams have less than 10 employees. Most mobile games flop. For very few profitable games, unless you have a massive hit, after Apple/Google tax, marketing, R&D cost, the profit is less than 30%. Yet Apple and Google make 30 cents on every dollar transaction before the developers even see a dime. They are almost pure profit (the server and bandwidth cost are negligible). Furthermore, they collect the money straightaway but don't pay until weeks later. And the duopoly are the biggest companies in the world. How is that fair!!!
Mikel (San Jose)
@Jim Lee Android has Google Play Store, Amazon Appstore, Epic Games Store, F-Droid, and sideloading.
Newfie (Newfoundland)
The CEO and majority shareholder of a $17 billion company is an underdog ? Give us a break.
Michele (Sequim, WA)
@Newfie When he takes on the largest corporation in the world he is the underdog.
Harb (Germany)
@Newfie Apple ist worth 1 trillion.
John (OR)
@Michele - All the crocodile tears in China will not float Sweeney's boat.
Mike (Boston)
All the articles I’ve read on Epic v. Apple and Google, including this one, try to paint the companies in a kind of moral light. But antitrust is not about morality. It’s necessary for the healthy functioning of capitalism. It is not morally wrong for Apple to charge a fee to list an app on its own store, but when we have a complete duopoly of two phone operating systems and two app stores, and both charge 30 percent, how can any upstart compete? Not to mention that having a smartphone is a requirement for most people, so we are forced to patronize either Apple or Google. Remember how Microsoft got busted for simply bundling Internet Explorer in Windows? We are a far cry from those days.
Michael (Wilmington)
@Mike thank God Facebook is still ethical and caring.
Daniel (Ithaca)
@Mike But you aren't forced to patronize Google. This article does a terrible job of pointing it out, but Google, unlike Apple, allows other stores on its OS. I personally have 3 different app stores on my phone. I suspect they will lose the anti-trust suit against Google of this reason. Actually, I suspect they will lose it against Apple too, but that is because, as you point out, we don't really prosecute anti-trust anymore.
Kevin S. (New Jersey)
Among the many realities 2020 has laid bare is that tech has fully matured into just as evil of a corporate world as every other industry (probably more so, if Facebook's recent trials are any indication). I find it really hard to care about this dispute. It's purely about which of these giant corporations (including Epic and it's corporate half-owner Tencent) will get to keep more of the consumer's money. Plus, that 30% is the same rate Apple has always charged. Does it feel excessive? Sure. But the app store is their product and they can charge what the want for the use of it. This whole thing feels a little petty and childish to be honest. And I highly doubt Epic will win this.
Teal (USA)
@Kevin S. "the app store is their product and they can charge what the want for the use of it" You don't understand antitrust issues and you certainly should care about companies that exploit market power vs competing on the basis of quality and service.
Jean Doe (Atlanta, GA)
@Kevin S. Windows OS is Microsoft's product but can you imagine if they tried to take 30% of all software you installed? If I buy on Amazon through the app on my iPhone, why doesn't Apple get a 30% cut of that? It's just for virtual goods and not physical because it's always been that way? (always being less than 10 year)
James (Chicago)
Very strange to see so many comments in favor of Apple from an audience that is generally left of center. This is probably the result of Apple's branding success, they have created the brand image of being quirky & security focused, innovating on behalf of the customers. But Apple is just a business - one that has a 38% gross profit margin. For comparison, ExxonMobil's gross profit margin is 3%. Which is to say, Apple is able to make a lot of money by charging customers high prices. I look at is very simply. If you were in favor of the anti-trust case against Microsoft in the 1990s, you should definately see the Apple and Google App-store as anti-competive. The 1990s case against MSFT was due to the installation of Internet Explorer as the default web browser on PCs. Anyone could still install Netscape, but most people didn't and MSFT had enormous market share by default. Today's phones are simply computers, hardware. And Apps are software. Users should be able to install software without Apple extracting enormous % of sales. Yes, software developers should have to enter into license agreements with Apple but taking 30% of all software revenue is an abuse of the platform.
John (OR)
@James - Very strange, excuse me, very normal, these days to see so many comments by folks who do not grasp the problems. Epic should just make their own E-devices/delivery systems so kids big and small can be mindless on their own terms as Epic sees fit to allow them to be.
somebody (somewhere)
Why can you buy an item on the ebay app and ebay doesn't pay Apple but you can't buy something in a game without Apple getting a cut? The item you buy in the game exists in the servers of Epic and is just part of what the phone only visualizes. It visualizes both paid and unpaid content. The Apple Store has nothing to do with that visualization. It is all the backend server making changes to your virtual content. In the end, as an app developer you pay $100 a year to publish apps. Apple makes you enter into a paid app agreement even if you only sell free apps. If you have a backend account that you pay for or pay with, that is none of Apples business. Many apps require a backend service agreement to setup a user and password and Apple gets none of that. Ebay allows you to purchase and pay outside of the Apple Store. Apple is definitely making some kind of weird rule around what constitutes and in-app purchase and why it must go through the Apple Store. Many startup companies are surely pleased to pay the 30% because it makes it easy to get business. But if a company has users with accounts that are willing to pay another way, I don't see it being legal to stop them and it also seems inconsistent with how many apps, that are not games, work. Seems like clear-cut anti-trust.
Brendan (E. Montp, Vermont)
Others have mentioned that Epic has no problem paying the same 30% to Sony & Microsoft for access to the Xbox / PlayStation markets. The cynic in me thinks that if Mr. Sweeney doesn’t want to abide by the same rules that all other developers follow, he should develop his own mobile gaming hardware. Or perhaps he could allow users to create their own skins and upload them instead of holding a “monopoly” within the Fortnite V-bucks store. $20 for a costume that can only be used in their own game. Really?
somebody (somewhere)
Restricting app companies from collecting fees for in-app purchases by means other than Apple Store is definitely anti-trust.
sugarandd (DC)
Tim Sweeney likes to paint himself as a crusader. He isn't. He is a business man at his core, trying to rally support and break Apple's ecosystem for one singular reason. He wants more money. If Apple is going to be true to its protections (that the App Store offers its users) it has to take him down. Apple has built the safest, most private worldwide ecosystem ever for its customers (especially compared to Facebook, Google, and others that trade on personal data). I, for one, don't want to lose that so Tim Sweeney can satisfy his hunger for more revenue. From the early ruling made by the judge who is handling this case, it would appear she agrees. While Apple cannot block the Unreal Engine unless it eventually shows real harm, Fortnite is out and the security of the App Store remains. Thank goodness!
somebody (somewhere)
@sugarandd Apple restricting an-app purchases via any means except Apple is anti-trust. The user knows how they are purchasing. It isn't a security issue. It would be like Apple forcing the ebay app to make all purchases via Apple instead of by your own charge account or paypal account. They don't do it there. Is the iOS ebay app not secure?
James (Chicago)
@sugarandd This can be said about anyone. Lets go back to the 1990's. The Netscape attempt to break Microsoft's barrier to their ecosystem (the PC destktop) was about one singular reason, they wanted more money. In the early 1900's, competitors of Standard Oil wanted more money. The whole point of anti-trust is to allow competition from smaller parties who want more money. I have an iPhone and have invested in AAPL stock, but the only intellectually honest conclusion is that Apple is using their App store as a filter to extract non-market based rates from programmers. The security of the Apple platform in no way requires a 30% commission. Apple can reject software that is unsafe, regardless of how much revenue it generates. The iPhone is hardware, and Apps are software. Apple's restriction on software is 100x more anti-competitive than what Microsoft was doing in the 1990s.
DM (Space is the Place)
Apple should not be in a position to control commerce itself, never mind censor what is and what isn’t available to grown adults.
@DM Apple is not in a position to control commerce itself. You are free to choose to purchase a device from Samsung, Google, Microsoft etc. and consume media through that device. I would argue that there is value to Apples "walled garden" right now in privacy and security. If consumers find Apple too controlling, they will leave. Instead Epic is trying to dictate how Apple and Google should charge for their devices. Since Epic is so passionate about an open platform, they should enter the market with one.
Joe C. (San Francisco)
Apple doesn’t do that. When you buy an Apple product, you buy into the ecosystem of Apple. If that ecosystem doesn’t appeal to you, get a different product.
KCM (Chicago)
The only alternative to the Apple product is a product which runs Google's Android OS, which also forces users to use their software store. (Each being a controlled marketplace.) Hence the duopoly claim of this lawsuit.
Jim (Hell)
I’d suggest that Mr. Sweeney begin by tending to his own house and acknowledge that most of the Fortnite “emotes” he sells are the works of others that he doesn’t have a license to use. He may even want to go so far as to (gasp) pay those who originated the dances, if he’s going to continue to use their work. The Sean Parker model of theft and profit repackaged as a fight for freedom is still garishly phony, even after all of these years.
Chris (San Diego)
I love that Steam is described as "a competitor," as if it weren't the 800 pound gorilla in the PC gaming space. And Epic's habit of paying game developers millions to for exclusive distribution rights shows you the type of "open" environment Sweeney wants.
East Coast (East Coast)
This guy just wants more money. APPLE invented the modern phone era. there is no way there iOS system should be open. MY belief is its more secure than other operating systems because Apple controls it. If you want to run a product on their phone then pay your fee.
Terence Smith (NJ)
You should watch “General Magic” and then reevaluate your assertion.
Kimber Smith (Brooklyn)
@East Coast Microsoft invented the modern computer age, they weren't allowed to have a monopoly, why should Apple
John (OR)
@Terence Smith - Exactly, when you take your Tahoe in for repair at the dealer they should have to Mopar parts if you want them too, because Freedom.
Steve Itkin (New Haven)
Tim, I have an idea...use that incredible inventiveness, and energy to create something useful.
sugarandd (DC)
@Steve Itkin How about the the COVID-19 tracing that Apple and Google partnered on to keep anyone on the planet safe (provided the local government or state has the intelligence to adopt it). While saving people from getting sick and some dying may not be as glittery as a new phone, it sure works for me.
Walter (Colorado)
@Steve Itkin useful, a fabulous concept !
gigantor21 (USA)
Tim is right that Apple's stewardship of the App Store has been capricious and greedy, and a more open iOS would be better for everyone...but ultimately, there are no heroes in a fight between Apple and Epic. For all of Sweeney's "fight the power" posturing, this is ultimately about one thing; getting their Epic Games Store onto iOS as an alternative to the App Store. The lawsuit itself even floats the idea. He goes on and on about Apple not treating developers fairly, but asked for a sweetheart deal--only mentioning in passing that they "hoped" that other developers would be able to the same. I have serious doubts they would've have pressed the issue further if Apple had agreed. Between putting their employees through the ringer to put out more Fortnite content, cutting exclusivity deals on Epic's PC storefront, and TenCent owning almost half the company, I don't buy this whole "resistance movement" song and dance. And their corporate propaganda is especially tone-deaf given all the actual protests over actual problems that are going on IRL. Then again, self-awareness was never Sweeney's strong suit.
John (OR)
@gigantor21 - "Tim is right that Apple's stewardship of the App Store has been..." It is their store. Should Apple have to sell Razr's because some apps in their store can run on Android too?
TobyFinn (NYC)
Fortnite is about destruction and killing, and Mr.Sweeney is proud of this “Game”. Millions of children are addicted to Fortnite and no one seems to care about its impact on behavior and learning. It’s all about who gets the money!
Greg (Indiana)
@TobyFinn The argument that video games incite violence is a tired, discredited idea, born of the "Satanic Panic", and has aged just as poorly.
John (OR)
@Greg - " The argument that video games incite violence is a tired" @TobyFinn "Millions of children are addicted to Fortnite and no one seems to care about its impact on behavior and learning." There's a huge gap in your um, provocative but limited declaration.
Jeffrey (Wisconsin)
Tim Sweeney is as duplicitous as they come, and this article is bizarrely lopsided. He attempts to cast himself as a savior, when looking at the emails he actually sent Apple make it clear he just wanted the ability to circumvent their walled garden to make more money for himself, a “and others too please” tossed in at the end; the equivalent to a meaningless throwaway thoughts and prayers when it was clearly all about him. His Twitter whining constantly paint him as somehow innocent, when he was the one who willingly broke a ToS Epic had followed for years. Epic fragmenting the PC market by forcing players into a less capable ecosystem for games just about to release have brought a pointlessness to the space not seen since the early 00s - and never mind that the savings he claims he can foster from this less capable front aren’t passed onto consumers. His attempts to get public opinion on his side by weaponizing the masses of young gamers - something we’ve seen ruin lives time and time again based on the seething fury of millions of 12 year olds who just want their toys - is juvenile and disgusting. Apple has plenty of issues, and maybe 30% is too high a cut, despite it being the standard the world over - and of course it’s obvious other app makers don’t want to pay those margins. Still, I can’t wait to see Tim lose a battle of his own pointless design. Shame on NYT for not actually understanding the dynamics of the industry at play or why people dislike Epic.
David W. (South Carolina)
Tim Sweeney is a charlatan who is weaponizing children to go to bat for his corporation because they can’t play his game. He put Epic in this position because he thought an army of screaming children mounting a targeted harassment campaign against Apple would bring him swift victory. Apple is no saint and there are things that need to be changed but this method is the worst way to do it.
CYin (Malaysia)
Epic Games is no saint either.
sandy (Falmouth)
I think it is an interesting commentary on the Tech world that they would invert themselves to be based out of Ireland and pay zero taxes anywhere but be up in arms when someone does not want to pay 30% to them for using their "infrastructure" How about a deal - you are allowed to charge as much as you like in your store if you pay the same flat rate to the US Treasury for the US infrastructure that you are using
Your Mom (Earth)
@sandy Don’t blame corporations for not paying taxes. They are simply following the law. If you don’t like it, write your Congress person and have the tax code changed. Do you not write off deductions on your taxes? If you do? Then by your own logic, please stop doing that and pay more taxes.
C (JC)
Funny how Epic only started this war when there were rumors that WeChat, Tencent's messaging app, might be banned from app stores by the Trump administration. Unreal Engine is great, but this is clearly a proxy war between China and Trump. Also worth noting, if Google and Apple are forced to open their app stores, it will make it harder to deplatform people. Personally, I'm not bothered by free speech, but we know the NY Times and many of their readers don't like it, so just be aware their could be unintended consequences here.
Les (Bethesda)
Crocodile tears for Mr. Sweeney. He doesn't like it that Apple is getting richer. He wants to get richer instead. These tech people are all just robber barons trying to steal billions from us so they can become obscenely rich. Then, they can pretend they are saints by giving away millions. The same scam that was being run during the gilded age with the Rockefeller's and the Vanderbilts. Then it was oil and railroads, now computers. When will we learn?
joshua87 (montreal)
They have made money through the store. They broke a contract. They chose to whine about their situation instead of finding their own solution. The store belongs to Apple therefore they set the rules. If the rules are not good enough then find your own solution.Dont complain if you break the rules and get caught. They wanted to keep making money from Apples store and some side money as well. The era of trump where people don’t think rules apply to them.
Massi (Brooklyn)
I’m interested in starting a business that offers in-app purchases within Fortnite that compete with Epic’s own offerings. I would require significant support from Epic, of course, since they built and continue to maintain the platform, and it would be helpful if they could also process the payments for me and then just send me a check. Do you think they deserve a percentage of my receipts, and if so, what percentage should I agree to let them have?
Ugly and Fat Git (Superior, CO)
A CEO wants to develop a open platform...., ain't buying that.
David Gregory (Sunbelt)
Mr. Sweeny is free to develop an operating system and hardware if he does not like Apple and Google's rules. There is no case here.
Jeff Bowles (San Francisco, California)
@David Gregory against a corporation regulated by standard anti-trust laws, this line of reasoning is no different from the Bell System of the 1960s and 1970s telling customers they could not put any "computer" device on their phone line without it being approved by (and likely rented from) Ma Bell. You'll notice that Bell Systems was broken up by the government on Jan 1 1984.
James (Chicago)
@David Gregory Netscape was free to develop a program that followed Microsoft's rules. Using the 1990s anti-trust case against MSFT, we can see that Apple is doing what MSFT did amplified by 1000. An iPhone and Android Phone are simply hardware, Apps are software. If software developers such as Netscape had a case against MSFT in the 1990s, then Epic has a case against APPL and GOOG today.
Ellen (NYC)
@David Gregory - There is a case. Microsoft tried to limit the browser that could run on Windows years ago and it was sued and lost. This is no different. Apple tries to limit what can be installed on Apple devices. And frequently tey will take a good idea from someone else, shut that software down, and provide their own version for sale.
Chef D (Cocoa Beach)
Mr. Sweeney needs to play the game, no pun intended. Being a developer myself, I, too, am frustrated over Apple and Googles payment policy. Yet, there it is and it is there for a reason. Coding your way around that policy just isn't fair to both of those companies. Dude, stick to developing your product and leave the Big Boy's alone.
Brent C. (Roselle Park, New Jersey)
That headline should end with, " Incentivizing Gambling in Children." Epic made their money on a ruthless pay-per-play and "freemium" model. Coupled with Chinese developer tencent buying a stake, saying Epic is taking on industry titans is a little like saying Comcast is taking on Time Warner.
Daniel (Ithaca)
@Brent C. Fortnite does not have anything that could possibly be called gambling. You see and choose what you are paying for. I assume you are referring to the "loot box" or "gatchapon" model of other games, Fortnite does not have those types of systems.
James (Atlanta)
If Apple and Google cared about their customers, they would have struck an equitable deal with Fortnite. They don’t. Be strong, Mr Sweeney. Btw, I loved the 1984 ad.
ThePragmatist (NJ)
@James Let's be clear. This is pure economics masquerading as "open" philosophy. You can't claim that Epic cares for its customers while Apple does not. They have different perspectives on what customers want. That Epic doesn't want to pay 30% to Apple but wants to retain 20% for itself is the real point. So we're effectively saying if implemented: gamer saves about 10% relative to Apple, 20% goes to Epic and zero to Apple. Sounds crazy!
B D Duncan (Boston MA)
Epic is dressing this up as a moral crusade but let’s be honest about the whole situation. They want to make more money by reducing their costs. Apple and Google are charging industry standards for their app stores. If they wanted to quietly negotiate those prices, they could have. Instead they’re making it a big to do and using kids hooked on their (now aging) killer app as pawns in their fight. This is a business move, not a fight for “what’s right”. I have no sympathy for tech monopolies but Epic’s approach to this makes my eyes roll.
Will (NYC)
Sweeney is not wrong but the hypocrisy is too much too ignore. Amongst the gaming community Sweeney and Epic are famous for these very same practices, controlling indy games and keeping them exclusively on the heavily controlled Epic games store and off the open market like Steam. The Epic game store is basically the opposite of an open platform. Sweeney is targeting the bigger fish for using the exact same strategies he employs on the smaller fish. He is not a gaming idealist, he is an exploiter, and I cant say I mind watching the bigger exploiters give him a taste of his own medicine.
A Significant Other (USA)
@Will - bravo, excellent summary. I will add that although Sweeney may be mindless about who is pulling his strings - 10cents is run under Beijing's approval. And soft power injected globally (tear down symbols real & imagined of western power) into everyday politics is just what the PRC ordered. So take down the western Giants of Tech Sweeney, and hug that stock portfolio..., but it won't protect you when 'they' come for you -
Kumar Ranganathan (Bangalore, India)
Somebody must have the guts take on Apple and Google and break this utterly monopolistic business model. Otherwise, the more entrenched these platforms become, the network effects will only put more and more power into the hands of these fat-cat gatekeepers - who will continue to charge ridiculous tolls. Never mind that it will come at a huge cost from the bottom-lines of innovative developers and hold the industry back for good.
Billy Evans (Gloucester MA)
For those who are not into gaming or these apps but are interested in the legal aspect this piece of writing is seriously wanting. Please explain the basic underlying circumstances! Frustrating
Pessimist (Chicago, IL)
So, if they win these suits, are Epic going to allow third parties to sell Fortnite cosmetic upgrades, or will users still have to buy V-Bucks available only from Epic? Thought so.
Mike (Chicago)
I find this whole issue quite absurd. Why is Epic just picking on Apple and Google? Microsoft, Sony and even Nintendo all charge fees to utilize their platforms through a chunk of sales and publishing fees.
Mark Ford (NC)
@Mike Mr. Sweeney is right to single out and challenge Apple and Google. Together they control the mobile device OS market and mobile devices are fast becoming de facto identity cards and wallets everyone must carry or be left out of society. In comparison, gaming platforms compete with one another based on performance features and are purely discretionary purchases.
Chris (10013)
Apple and Google control the device market and have imposed a "store" which requires a tax on every company to pay a tax for access to consumers. This could not be a clearer violation of anti-trust laws. Tim Sweeney is doing the right thing. If only Congress would act
Jean louis LONNE (FRANCE)
As an Apple fan, I'll be the first to admit they overcharge for everything. Having said that, Fortnite would not have become the success it became without Apple. Mr. Sweeney seems to be mainly trying to make even more money than he already is making. I would be inclined to believe him, if he had not first used Apple. What do you call people like that?
ALB (Maryland)
It is long past time for Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon to be cut down to size under our antitrust laws for their anti-competitive practices. It is infuriating to see Zuckerberg, et al. file into congressional hearings and make sanctimonious statements about how they are doing everything they can to run their companies in a way that protects speech and user information while being fair and honest with other businesses that depend on their platforms — and then file out without so much as a wrist slap. The monopolistic behavior of these tech giants grows clearer by the day, with Fortnite being just one more victim. (The only surprise is that one of these monopolists hasn’t been able to simply purchase Fortnight for some billions of dollars just to get rid of the aggravation it is causing.) Meanwhile, the antitrust division of the Department of Justice, and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Competition, sit on their hands. What’s scariest is that even if these federal agencies were inclined to act, thanks to grossly inadequate federal funding, they simply lack the financial and staffing strength to take on and win a protracted legal battle against the ever-growing, increasingly controlling tech behemoths.
Eric C. (Atlanta)
And this is where we’ve had bipartisan (lack thereof) action as both the Obama and Trump administrations have failed the American public. As the owner of a tech business for many years, it was infuriating to see the Obama administration lavish praise and fanboy out on big tech. I expected nothing except cronyism and a failure to reign in big tech under a Republican, but at the time that the need was so urgent to lay down guardrails for big tech, you heard more about tech fundraisers for Democrats than any tangible action.
Lloyd (San Jose, California)
I think Sweeney has good points about his mission to take on Apple and Google and other power publishers. A little ironic to make this argument after selling such a huge stake of your company to Tencent, the worlds largest video game and possibly media corporation. The epic store has already been on a straight line path to becoming exactly what it hates. I'm not convinced.
Good John Fagin (Chicago Suburbs)
Hey, kiddies, welcome to the planet Earth. One of the previous comments admits that Apple products, "...rule the marketplace," Sure, with a 20% market share. Also missing is the fact that for that thirty percent charge, Apple maintains its online store, advertises developers' products, collects and forwards the other 70%, AND (and this is the big "and") monitors, analyzes, and tracks games to assure their safety and compatibility with the Mac ecosystem, a service which is not free for Apple. But, if that still upsets you, welcome to the other 80% of the digital universe. Just don't mess with my computer system.
Ellen (NYC)
@Good John Fagin - All Epic wants is to be able to sell its products directly. If aApple wants to chanrge people more for a product sold on its store, great, have at it. We'll see if people actually value what Apple offers. But there's no reason Epic should be able to sell directly.
Karen M. (Buffalo, NY)
As a mom who plays Fortnite with my two adolescent boys, I’m pleased to see Mr. Sweeney challenging Apple & Google in their app payment structure. While I do not pretend that the inner-workings of apps and payments are in my wheelhouse, the reading I’ve done suggests it’s about time the power structure in the technology industry is challenged in a way that creates more success for developers. Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Sweeney!
Low-Notes-Liberate (Bed-Stuy Brooklyn NY)
Am I wrong in my feeling that there is a general backlash against Apple in the last few years? Their products rule the marketplace but their innovations and creativity have slowed to a near halt. When Apple thrilled the world with new tech and life-enhancing products many wanted to identify with their products and join in the ecosystem. But now that their products are just rehashes of earlier greatness and their software became cumbersome and ill-designed people are wanting out. We are all waiting for someone else to get behind, the next Steve Jobs. The pervasive feeling on the street is that Apple is a greedy has-been representing something we no longer want to be a part of.
Ashley (Kansas City)
@Low-Notes-Liberate this is what happens when a country slashes regulations and failS to enforce anti-trust laws: behemoths like Apple can buy out every competitor and absorb them into their brand. We’ll never know how many Steve Jobs we’re missing out on without a healthy, competitive marketplace of ideas. Monopolies crush innovation.
RAW (New York)
@Low-Notes-Liberate This is just anecdotal information but the failure rate of Macs seems to rival only the cheap IBM PC clones of the 90's. I don't think I know one person who owns a Mac that hasn't had a major issue in recent years. Hard drive failures seem almost routine. PC reliability is soooo much better. Competition makes it an absolute must,
A Significant Other (USA)
@Low-Notes-Liberate - Whoa, I'll tell you Apple has charged ahead of most in delivering amazing tech, and the laptop hardware was greatly improved in 2018-2020. And frankly the operating system gives no trouble, so what's to complain about a secure operating system and magical gadgets and tools? It sounds like you're taking a narrow view on this, Apple could not have doubled it's value to 2 trillion in a blink of an eye if people we note buying their services and tech in droves. That indicates success - consumer enthusiasm is a clear indicator in my book any way you look at it.
RR (Brooklyn)
The article never mentions the consoles - Xbox, Switch, Play Station... Epic pays the same fees there, as Apple and Google asks for. 30% cut is a standard rate at all app stores, not just at Apple and Google. Somehow, he’s ok with everyone else charging 30%, but not Apple and Google.
Pessimist (Chicago, IL)
@RR Well said! In addition, Epic makes most of its profit from those consoles. They are afraid to sue the console makers even though the terms are about the same, so they are going after vendors in the small parts of their business.
eyeball (new york)
you might want to read the third paragraph of the article.
Kyle (D.C.)
Sweeney has addressed this - console makers have a different business model than the app stores. Microsoft and Sony subsidize or break even on the cost of the hardware and make up for it on software sales. The app stores are collecting a hefty profit from the consumer on both ends.
Crumpet (London)
As a former employee both of Google and Epic Games, let me say: Tim Sweeney is the real deal. He's stood up for his employees time and again while Google has primarily stood up for their shareholders--and lost all moral authority in recent years, especially with the departure of Larry and Sergey. Instead of splashy perks, Epic puts its money where its mouth is and shares profits with employees. And in contrast to the typically mercenary game industry where mass layoffs and armies of overworked contractors are the norm, Epic has built a sustainable business model that retains, rewards, and develops its talent. It's great to see a successful person using their influence for good and sticking to their principles. Bravo, Tim!
Jane (Boston)
@Crumpet And Epic takes a cut for their store and technology just like Apple does. Don’t be fooled. There are two types of people. One says: “it’s just business” The other says: “it’s just principles” But both are really saying “it’s about the money” Tim and Epic are no different.
A Significant Other (USA)
@Crumpet - really, you don't think for one moment that money is driving this guy Sweeney...stumping for 10cents is what it's about as well which is highly disturbing where this is going. Many Trumpians can't see how they're being used, in the case of Sweeney it's similar but ultimately at end of the story - Beijing is pulling the cash lever on who lives and who dies. Games are deadly serious -
Anne (MA)
@Crumpet When my son's account on Fortnite was hacked, about $200 were spent on in-app purchases, Apple gave us the money back, not Epic games. They said they were not responsible. I'll stick with Apple, thank you.
See also