Epic Games CEO Says Apple ‘Must Be Stopped’

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 16 Nov 2021

After the verdict for the Apple vs. Epic Games lawsuit was announced, the latter’s CEO, Tim Sweeney, said the ruling wasn’t “a win for developers or for consumers” and added he would continue questioning Apple’s unfair policies. In a renewed attack on Apple, Sweeney has called for a single, universal App Store that caters to all platforms.

Epic and Apple were engaged in a heated legal battle last year over the latter’s high commissions on in-app purchases. Epic Games had allowed a direct payment option for Fortnite users. This resulted in the game being booted off the Apple App Store, and Epic’s developer account was also terminated. Later, Google followed in Apple’s footsteps. The final ruling largely favored Apple and directed Epic Games to pay the company $6 million in lost royalties. The game developer has since paid up and appealed the verdict, although Apple has been given until December 9 to allow developers to link to third-party payment options on the App Store.

At the Global Conference for Mobile Application Ecosystem Fairness in Seoul, South Korea, Sweeney said

“What the world really needs now is a single store that works with all platforms. Right now, software ownership is fragmented between the iOS App Store, the Android Google Play marketplace, different stores on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, and then Microsoft Store and the Mac App Store.”

Sweeney mentioned that Epic Games has teamed app developers and service providers to create a system that allows users to “buy software in one place, knowing that they’d have it on all devices and all platforms.” To recapitulate, Epic Games offers the Epic Games Store aimed squarely at PC gamers. Ironically, the store charges a commission, just like Apple.

“There’s a store market, there’s a payments market, and there are many other related markets. And it’s critical that antitrust enforcement not allow a monopolist in one market to use their control of that market to impose control over unrelated markets,” Sweeney said.

Sweeney also praised South Korean legislation that prohibits app stores from forcing developers to use proprietary payment methods. Google has outlined a compliance plan for this, but Apple hasn’t made any changes yet. The Epic Games CEO accused Apple of complying “with oppressive foreign laws” while “ignoring laws passed by Korea’s democracy.” “Apple must be stopped,” he opined.

Our Take

Tim Sweeney’s suggestion that the world transition to using a single App Store across all platforms is somewhat idealistic. For all we know, this universal store could become a monopolist itself! Additionally, app stores are yet to explore sustainable monetization models that don’t rely on in-app purchase commissions. If interpreted in the proper context, Sweeney’s suggestion is an idea in the right direction. However, the eventuality of a universal App Store or universal operating system is just a distant dream fraught with risks today.

[Via Bloomberg]