Epic tends to want publicity, especially bad publicity it seems, while claiming to be “for the gamers”. They’re really for the publishers, and especially themselves. And they’re definitely after the wallets of parents. So what is this whole intentional violation of app store policies for? Definitely publicity, but always money. Apple is their next target following Steam.
Apple does have problems, namely in iOS, a closed system effectively similar to a console. Their policies aren’t exactly the most consistent either, with a handful of exceptions made for a handful of big players. While I’d like to see more user-accessible options without hacking for iPhones and the like, that’s why I use Android, and I can only hope they don’t bring the closed system idea over to MacOS as well and mess up their line of PCs. I don’t think most people use the App Store for most of their programs on a Mac. On the other hand, if an official non-developer sideloading method became available for iOS, most people would still use the App Store, as people using Android tend to go through the Google Play Store, but it is good to have options.
Within Apple’s policies for iOS apps at least, there is a split on when it’s acceptable to use methods other than through Apple to pay for things, and it’s so Apple can collect royalties on in-app goods while not scaring off retail apps. This has come up before in regards to subscriptions, since payment for that results in access within the app, Apple would want to collect fees on that. Therefore, accepting other payment methods for in-app goods that aren’t some kind of retail purchase violates this policy and results in Apple usually delisting the apps. Anyone with any experience making iOS apps generally knows the policies as they have to read them or see the consequences themselves, so this attack on the mobile market was fully planned. They had marketing materials ready and everything, unless they really overworked some people to come up with it overnight. Which maybe they did anyway.
While Google’s Android system is more open, and therefore delisted apps can be sideloaded without much issue, they still opted to take down the app as well, but the end result difference is mostly exposure instead of a have or have-not situation. Some could also argue it’s a safety issue for anyone inexperienced with locating legitimate apps in a sea of bootlegs for popular stuff. Somehow this has also prompted a lawsuit where Epic is accusing both mobile platforms of effectively upholding their terms of service and calling it antitrust. Apple would be more likely to be guilty of antitrust for related matters, but there are a lot more reasons for it than not allowing alternate payment methods for microtransactions.
There are some strange inconsistencies to the plan. Their whole motivation is supposedly the 30% cut that made them attack Steam as well. However, they dropped the in-app purchase prices on consoles in addition to their own PC version. To whatever knowledge has come out of working with consoles, it seems they still take the same “standard” cut as any other place. If Epic is trying to make a point about this whole number they hate, they’ve already lost the idea. I feel they’re probably scared to lose out on the console numbers, yet were willing to risk the substantial mobile crowd, but I feel this is motivated by other recent actions against Apple from other parties. In that way, they’re just joining in with the crowd, and will claim anyone else’s victory against Apple as their own in some fashion. If they’re really pushing for this royalty shift, they would also take on consoles, so we’ll have to see if they change their mind.
Another aspect is that this battle is over in-app purchases, not full games. They want to make more off of in-app purchases, simply put. Even though they lowered the prices on their in-app things, it’s sale logic, which would drive someone on the fence to consider a purchase more, and in the long run would bring in more revenue. The drive of their PC store is to get publishers more money, including themselves, even with a lower cut of the games sold. The next step would be to launch a mobile storefront that sells apps with the same strategies, and this is what they want from iOS, since Android can sideload already. Then they would put their big money game on there and get all the revenue as they do on PC.
Something else to consider is the occasional exception that gets given to some apps. If Epic was to get this exception on their in-app purchases, they would probably quiet down about this whole fight that “passes the savings onto you”. They may just be after that and then possibly use that leverage to launch their own mobile store in full. Given the whole “passing savings on” anyway, it doesn’t seem to come up at all for any game on their PC store. Sure, they’re giving away random games like they don’t care about making money (which they do care, just that it comes from elsewhere in order to pay off anyone), but this has more just caused people to wait for when a game is given out for free instead of buying it. I feel that mindset is closer to the “entitled gamer” title than someone irritated that a publisher is changing stores at the last minute. I don’t mind getting things for free if it doesn’t involve paying for it in a worse way, but it should feel like a special event to drum up interest rather than a constant to rely on, like a crutch.
The thing to understand here is business, they really want to look like a company that fights so they get into whatever fights they feel like. First it was PC, now it’s phones, maybe they’ll end up wanting to replace Microsoft in the console market later, unless they just want to make up their own phone, which would probably use Android anyway. They also hate anything that somewhat resembles a monopoly that isn’t them. Steam is still not a monopoly and never was, as there were always competing PC stores that can hold their ground at the time. A more correct term is majority. If they did somehow achieve their dream of pushing every other PC store out of existence, they wouldn’t be calling themselves a monopoly.
Apple’s control over iOS apps could be called a monopoly, but Apple itself isn’t one, as they’re competing with largely Microsoft and Google. By that logic, any console has a monopoly within itself, yet they’re not taking on those, so whether their argument even holds up aside from the one consideration “Apple has a closed system”, we’ll just have to see what comes of it. It already seems shaky and hypocritical, and that’s without taking into account their idea of securing exclusives from showing up on any other store on a relatively open platform (PC), while not supporting an even more open version of that platform (Linux), or directing their products to only support Windows.
Long story short, still another reason for me to not bother with Epic’s big money pit they want on everything, except phones at the moment. And if I was going to get into some kind of game, I’d rather play it on a bigger screen as staring down at a phone isn’t the most comfortable. And if I was going to consider this overplayed battle royale genre at any point, I’d more want to pick a game that isn’t just another “go shoot people in the face inside a shrinking circle”. So either Tetris 99 or Fall Guys, and considering I could use some practice at Tetris and Fall Guys unfortunately falls under my clause of not buying multiplayer-only games due to trust that was broken partly due to Epic, I guess I’ll stick to singleplayer for now.