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The Fortnite fight isn’t just Epic squeezing more money from Apple

It’s easy to roll your eyes at Epic Games’ “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” ad, which parodies a 1984 Apple commercial about the company’s fight against a monopoly. Can a gaming company valued at $17.3 billion really act like it’s an underdog sticking it to the man? Then again, the alternative — rooting for Apple — doesn’t seem much better. Apple is the most valuable company in the world; surely it can live with taking a smaller commission from products sold on its storefront.

Everything about this sucks,” laments gaming website Kotaku. It’s a sentiment I’ve seen echoed on social media, where some folks posit that in a slap fight between two tech giants, the only real winner is the corrupting tendrils of capitalism. After all, this issue comes down to money, and making more of it.

But that skeptical narrative also flattens what else is at stake in the legal battle between Epic Games and Apple. The language of the lawsuit is revealing. In it, Epic says it doesn’t want monetary compensation from the proceedings.

“Nor is Epic seeking favorable treatment for itself, a single company,” the document reads. Many folks worry that this tussle will just end with Apple easing up on Epic Games while ignoring everyone else, but Epic’s lawsuit explicitly says the company doesn’t want special treatment that isn’t afforded to others. “Instead, Epic is seeking injunctive relief to allow fair competition in these two key markets that directly affect hundreds of millions of consumers and tens of thousands, if not more, of third-party app developers.”

Epic’s complaint against Google reads similarly, with Epic stating that it is not seeking “favorable treatment” for itself, but rather, a more open environment for everybody. Obviously, winning this battle would mean that Epic Games makes more money, which would be “favorable” to them. But the implications of the lawsuit could be more far-reaching for the gaming industry at large,…