Epic has been a big name in the games industry for years, but the incredible success of Fortnite has catapulted it to the head of the pack. It’s also given the firm enough clout to try and change the way game distribution works. At the DICE Summit, Epic Games CEO Time Sweeny took the stage to criticize the leading mobile platforms. He said Android is a “fake open system,” and Apple is even worse.
Fortnite began its run as a desktop game, following in the footsteps of other battle royale titles like PUBG. Fortnite successfully left the more “realistic” PUBG in the dust, earning billions of dollars for Epic Games. Like PUBG, the free mobile version of Fortnite has become just as popular as the desktop version. However, Sweeny says the roadblocks put up by Google and Apple are an ongoing issue.
Whereas Epic can handle the desktop hosting and distribution on its own, Android and iOS have built-in systems for that. Both companies take a 30 percent cut of sales as compensation for using the platform, but most developers have learned to live with that. They don’t have the staff or infrastructure to distribute content themselves, and using the App Store and Google Play provides access to a much larger audience. Epic, however, does have the capacity to do that.
Epic Games had no choice but to launch Fortnite in the App Store — there’s no way to sideload content on the iPhone without complex Jailbreaking hacks. On Android, Epic chose to release the game independently because Android does allow sideloading. However, the operating system quite reasonably warns users before they sideload apps. Sweeny bashed these “scary” pop-ups in his speech. Although, Google is treating Fortnite just like it would any other app. The “unknown sources” toggle is there for a good reason. Let’s not forget Epic launched Fortnite with a serious security hole on Android.
Sweeny also drew a comparison between mobile platforms and credit card processors. Visa, for example, charges a few percentage points while Apple and Google take 30 percent. While the two businesses are vastly different, Sweeny proposes Apple and Google could still be highly profitable shaving just a few percent off the top.
Sweeny’s criticism of Google and Apple is aimed pretty squarely at making Epic more money, but some of his other points will resonate with gamers. He called out Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo for their resistance to cross-platform gameplay in Fortnite. He also sees politics as an important part of gaming culture, criticizing Blizzard for trying to muzzle players who supported theHong Kong protests. Although, he also said players and vendors should be “free of lockdown,” apparently forgetting that the Epic Games store routinely makes deals for exclusive titles.
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