It’s easy to roll your eyes at Epic Games’ “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” ad, which reimagines an Apple commercial from 1984 about the company’s antitrust fight. Can a $ 17.3 billion gaming company really function as if it were an underdog stalking that man? Then again, the alternative – rooting for Apple – doesn’t seem much better. Apple is the most valuable company in the world; it can certainly live on getting a smaller commission from products sold on its storefront.
“Everything about this is bad,”; laments game website Kotaku. It’s a sentiment I’ve seen repeated on social media, where some argue that during a battle between the two tech giants the only real winners are rotten tendencies. dilapidated capitalism. After all, this issue is about money, and making more money.
But that cynical story also sheds light on what else is at stake in the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple. The language of the lawsuit is being revealed. In it, Epic states that they do not want monetary compensation from the proceedings.
The document reads: “Epic also does not seek the favorable treatment of itself, a single company. Many worried that this conflict would end only when Apple eased Epic Games while ignoring others, but Epic’s lawsuit made clear that the company did not want special treatment not given to others. “Instead, Epic is looking for the obligatory bailout to enable fair competition in two major markets that directly affect hundreds of millions of consumers and tens of thousands of third-party app developers. , if not more ”.
Likewise Epic’s complaints against Google, Epic stated that they are not looking for “favorable treatment” for themselves, but for a more open environment for everyone. Obviously, winning this battle means Epic Games will make more money, which will “benefit” them. But the impact of the lawsuit could be more far-reaching for the gaming industry as a whole, especially for smaller game developers.
If Apple – or really, any major store – cuts the usual 30% less than usual for apps and in-app purchases, it could make a world of difference for standalone developers. create. The percentages Apple takes are pretty standard across digital stores, like Steam or the Nintendo eShop. Mobile devices are more common than dedicated gaming hardware, however, and having a stubbornly famous company budge on something like this could help other stores to reconsider their commissions too. .
A recent viral tweet from game developer Emma Maassen suggested that if the storefront accounts for a smaller share of sales, like the 12% that Epic Games occupies on its own storefront, then the income increases. that would allow her studio Kitsune Games to develop a new game without crowdfunding. The responses to the tweet included other indies sharing similar opportunities that may have become viable with more equitable revenue sharing models in the gaming industry.
“The amount of additions we can add to our game is going to be crazy,” writes independent developer Elwin Verploegen.
On platforms like Steam, the more you sell, the better you’ll be rewarded; Revenue share can be reduced by 20%. Arguably, a smaller developer needs that money more than a blockbuster studio. The stakes of a smaller fee will be higher for the little guy, which usually doesn’t affect how these numbers look. Epic looks like it is taking over their cover.
Does this give Epic Games too much credit? Ability. But the company seems to be taking a walk. In addition to offering a better revenue sharing model on its own storefront than other major players, Epic has been making other strides towards helping smaller developers around the world. gender. Earlier this year, maker battle royale announced that anyone using their exclusive Unreal Engine would no longer have to pay royalties for the first $ 1 million in revenue, a move that only affected to new players. This is also providing $ 100 million in funding to Unreal Engine users in novel ways, including improving open source tools that benefit the general community.
In fact, Epic seems to support the idea that the rising tide will lift all boats. Smaller revenue share may mean less profit for gatekeepers in the short term, but if it allows creators to earn and get more done, the long term tail is better for everyone participated.
It is a generous philosophy that has become rare in the tech world. We live in a world where Facebook destabilized democracy, Google has previously contracted with the government to improve weapons, food delivery services like Grubhub can contribute to the destruction of Small business and Uber threaten livelihoods. Algorithms tailored to interact and scale often betray people every day. Google’s old motto, “Don’t be evil,” now sounds like a joke.
To see a company like Epic Games choose not only to fight, but also act respectable About what it stands for seems wrong in a world where the tech giants are constantly making us fail. Corporations can’t act like they want what’s best for everyone – no more.
But when I look at the message surrounding Epic Games and its values, I don’t quite see a sucker looking for the number one spot. Instead of a completely non-personalized brand, Epic Games also exists as an extension of a specific personality: company founder and CEO Tim Sweeney.
I see Sweeney talking poetically about wanting to build the metaverse and destroy all the barriers in his way, like an ideal man with starry eyes. I saw Sweeney, a billionaire who probably never had to look back at code, excitedly talking about the trivia of social media programming. I see Sweeney silently using his property to buy large plots of land for conservation.
What kind of business plan is to take your video game off two of the biggest platforms out there, who knows for how long? Why choose a war that will cost you so much money? Who will go head to head against Apple and Google and think they can win? More than any major, modern tech company I can think of, Epic Games seems like an optimist’s personal vehicle to believe in something bigger than himself, even if it does. unrealistic or crazy.
I am naive to believe in the arguably lofty intentions of an eccentric billionaire. Even so, if Sweeney succeeds against Apple and Google – and this is certainly Sweeney’s fight, given his extremely antitrust Twitter feed – Epic Games won’t be the only party to enjoy it. profit.