It’s been a busy day for Apple and Epic Game. This morning, Epic rolled out a new direct payment feature in the iOS and Android versions of Fortnite. This, as you might have already guessed from the phrase “direct payment,” allowed Epic to sidestep the App Store and Google Play Store, keeping the 30% cut that both stores would have taken on any and all in-app purchases.
It did not take Apple long to respond to that, as it pulled Fortnite from the App Store this afternoon. Almost immediately after that happened, Epic filed a lawsuit against Apple in California, alleging that Apple has a monopoly on iOS app distribution through the App Store and asking the court to identify it as such.
In that civil antitrust lawsuit, which you can read over on the Unreal Engine website [PDF], Epic makes more than a few allusions to George Orwell’s famous dystopian novel 1984. It even makes a call back to the 1980s, when Apple published advertisements suggesting that IBM was set to dominate the computing industry and drew their own parallels to Orwell’s novel.
“Fast forward to 2020, and Apple has become what it once railed against: the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation,” Epic’s lawsuit reads. “Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear.”
It turns out that Epic isn’t satisfied with merely mentioning 1984, as it released a new Fortnite video that is itself a parody of one of those ads Apple ran back in 1980s. In the video, we see a number of greyscale Fortnite characters shuffle into a room where a character with an apple for a head is speaking on a telescreen. Another Fortnite character, this one in full color and wielding a unicorn pickaxe, runs into the room and smashes the screen, seemingly breaking everyone out of their haze.
At the end of the video, we see text that reads, “Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming ‘1984.’” You can Epic’s video and the original Apple ad embedded above.
So, essentially, Epic is accusing Apple of being guilty of the same practices Apple shamed IBM for back in the 1980s. It seems that Epic was indeed prepared for Apple to pull Fortnite from the App Store when it rolled out direct payments, and now it’s launching an all-out assault on Apple and its App Store policies. Stay tuned, because we’ll almost certainly be hearing more about this soon.