It was only five years ago that Epic Games’ Josh Adam and Bill Bramer were onstage at Apple’s WWDC demoing Fortnite and talking about how incredible the iOS platform is for developers. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you know where this is going.
The legal and public relations battle that Epic launched against Apple for delisting its app from their stores demonstrates a clear rebellion against the power of the platform that it once headlined.
Epic Games isn’t David fighting Goliath. Sure, it’s fiscally insignificant compared to Apple: revenue of $4.2 billion in 2019 versus Apple’s $260.2 billion. But we’re still talking billions, and it will have an impact far beyond these two companies.
In the beginning, Epic looked like it was taking a stand against injustice and representing all gaming companies who suffer that 30% cut in revenue on all in-app transactions. But the longer this goes on, the less explicitly noble Epic looks. It’s attempting to turn its users against Apple, which has seemingly backfired. Turns out, if someone cares about playing Fortnite, they will just use other platforms.
What matters now is how this impacts everyone else, and I’m not talking about gamers or gaming companies.
Brands started seeing the opportunity in apps a decade ago and have been releasing their own IP; now, with the pandemic creating a huge boost in mobile commerce (nearly $300 billion this year), there is a huge opportunity to capture not just attention and brand loyalty but dollars as well.
But branded apps, just like games, live within the walled gardens of the app stores. And the companies who run these stores have their own set of rules — and Apple, in particular, is done being lenient.