The Apple vs Epic Games battle is back on the center stage, this time with Tim Cook testifying in court. What was once a debate of an app bypassing an app store, is now brewing into a matter of principle and monopoly.
If you don’t know about any of it yet, fret not, I’ll try to keep it as simple as I can. I’m keeping it that way because both Apple and Epic are leaving no stone unturned in complicating the situation.
What Is Apple Vs Epic?
Apple Vs Epic started when Epic CEO Tim Sweeney wrote an email to Apple, asking to establish its own in-app purchase system bypassing Apple’s own. Mr. Sweeney got a reply from Apple’s legal team, denying both demands and calling the email ‘disappointing’.
Despite Apple’s denial, Epic went ahead and set up its independent in-app purchase system for Fortnite, a popular game on the App Store. While they were at it, the company even offered a discount to users purchasing directly from Fortnite’s in-app system.
Epic did this because Apple charges a 30% commission on in-app purchases from the App Store. So if you play Fortnite, and buy the V-Bucks currency in the game, you’re actually paying a cut to Apple every time you buy more V-bucks.
Apple saw Epic’s move as a violation and removed Fortnite from the App Store. Then, Apple went ahead to disable support for Epic’s Unreal Engine, which is a game engine to render high-quality cinematics.
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When Apple refused to reinstate the game and the gaming engine, Epic sued Apple for maintaining a monopoly on iOS apps through the App Store.
What Favors Apple?
Apple has certain points going for itself. It recently published that the App Store stopped more than $1.5 billion in fraudulent transactions in 2020. Aside from this, Apple also stopped more than 3 million stolen cards from making purchases on the App Store. The entire data is in the graphic above.
With these numbers, Apple can confidently say that the App Store restrictions make it a better place. The company also introduced App tracking transparency, and App privacy labels to give the users more control.
Apple CEO Tim Cook recently testified in the court and said the company reviews 1,00,000 apps per week, rejecting 40,000 of them. This strict monitoring lets the App Store maintain a spam-free space.
You can literally download anything from the Apple App Store and not think twice about the quality of the app. So the company’s tightly held ecosystem is basically giving you less, but quality apps.
If Apple can convince the court that the App Store restrictions are paying off, it has a chance at winning the case. Also, Epic did wrong by circumventing Apple’s in-app system. The approach could’ve been more civil and legal actions taken without the melodrama.
What Favors Epic Games?
In the case of Apple vs Epic Games, a common sentiment travels with the latter. Developers, companies, and even users are tired of everything costing so much on the App Store.
First Spotify decided to ditch the App Store in-app purchase system to redirect users to its website, then Netflix did the same. These companies, along with many others, started a Coalition For App Fairness against the App Store policies.
Apple claims a hefty 30% commission from developers on in-app purchases. Epic can justify this as an unnecessarily high ceiling for just providing a distribution platform.
Another argument can be that Apple should allow users to download apps from outside the App Store, which will give users more options at probably better prices. If Epic proves Apple has a monopoly over iOS, and that the fortification is unnecessary, it may have a shot at winning the case.
The Epic Vs Apple Melodrama
Now that we know the case and what might favor both companies, let’s look at the bigger picture here. Apple’s App Store charges 30% from developers, but so do Google Play Store, Samsung, and Microsoft.
If we go into the details, App Store charges 15% instead of 30% for small businesses and developers. Play Store charges 15% after 12 months, and Samsung keeps it negotiable.
However, if something is going on for ages, it doesn’t make it right. All App Stores should revise these prices, or make a better pricing structure to accomodate developers.
On Epic’s front, the company violated a contract, bypassed App Store policies, and then made a scene out of it. Half of this could’ve been avoided if Epic just took matters to court before the whole Fortnite thing.
Mr. Tim Cook focused on the word ‘user’ for the better part of his testimony. While he talked about the convenience and security of the user, he didn’t address the 30% commission Apple is charging ‘from’ the users only.
In short, Apple Vs Epic Games is simply unfair rules vs rogue corporation melodrama. Apple is also facing an antitrust suit in the U.S. about its unfair monopoly on the ecosystem. There too, the issue is that of Apple’s tall commission ceiling.
Rest assured, when this settles, we can expect all app stores to reconsider the commission values, and developers to refrain from bypassing contracts to make a point.
Why You Should Care About It?
You, as a user should care for the Apple vs Epic Games legal battle. It is so because it ultimately affects your wallets and experience. iPhone users can’t play Fortnite anymore, which is a bummer.
When it was available, iPhone users were paying more for every purchase compared to Android and other platforms. As users, as gamers, you should be aware of the extra costs as well as the reasons you pay it.
You can accept the Apple ecosystem with its ‘rules’ or you can just switch platforms and pay less for the same services. Either way, it should be your choice to go for a platform and pick what’s best for you.