It was a big day on March 12, 2018, in Cary, North Carolina, as Epic Games geared up for its next big announcement: Fortnite was coming to mobile. The battle royale title had grown significantly over the preceding months, transforming Epic into one of the biggest companies in the world.
The mobile launch added another layer to that rise and tapped into a larger audience than many PC or console games had lured in. The cultural phenomenon became apparent and Fortnite soon landed merchandising, music, and film collaborations, from hosting rapper Travis Scott for a virtual concert after the start of the coronavirus pandemic to premiering a sneak peak of the latest Star Wars movie.
Now, Epic is gearing up for a legal battle against the most valuable company in the world and is making a must-see event out of it.
Epic is seeking a very minor legal win for itself: the restoration of Fortnite to Apple’s App Store after it was booted in August 2020, with the court-approved inclusion of a payment system built by the developer and not Apple. But the precedent set at the end of this trial could spell bigger problems for Apple as Epic asks for the court to deem its practices and commission structure unlawful. That would be a huge win for other developers and for antitrust prosecutors at large.
Apple also remains under investigation by the United States government, which has already brought cases against two other major tech companies and is likely to do the same against the iOS developer. Congress’ focus on Apple is broader than the Epic case, but one issue is the same: how much revenue Apple takes from people who sell on its platform.
Epic’s primary qualm with Apple focuses around the 30 percent commission it takes from publishers on the App Store. While Fortnite is free to play, Apple takes that cut if users purchase in-game currency for cosmetic items while playing on their iPhones or iPads. Epic voiced its public frustration last summer and then it took…