If you haven’t been keeping a close eye on news in the tech world, you may have missed the recent battle that has been taking place between Epic Games, the developer of the popular title Fortnite, and the two big mobile giants Apple and Google. The gist of the issue had been largely because Epic Games had added a direct payment method for V-Bucks, the in-game currency that allows players to buy cosmetic items, to the game on both marketplaces undercutting the 30% that both Apple and Google receive from their respective marketplaces and breaking the terms of service for both too. This led to the immediate removal of the game from both app stores, and the events that followed.
The argument from the side of Epic is that this method of pricing is anti-competitive and builds a monopoly on the marketplaces, with Apples counter being that the iOS marketplace has been a huge platform for Epic to build on – the most recent step taken by Epic is to attempt to have Fortnite legally reinstated on the marketplace without the removal of the added payment method, and with how things have been going so far throughout the case there is certainly potential for success.
Google has since tried to distance themselves from the ongoing legal battle by drawing the comparisons out and trying to show how their practices are different – where iOS only has the one available marketplace, users can pick and choose which marketplace they use on an Android device and don’t have to only rely on Google’s own Play Store. Epic had already responded to something similar back in April when they had noted that whilst these other marketplaces were available, Google uses significant resources to ensure that the experience is greatly diminished by doing so with the addition of security pop-ups, warnings, and other methods.
What could be most interesting, however, is how this may change the marketplace for other genres and businesses as many may have avoided developing an app for either because of the huge cut taken. The biggest will be the growing number of online casinos that have been finding a huge number of new players despite recent adjustments to regulations and initiatives such as Gamstop that had been aimed at reducing problem players, as many sites not on Gamstop such as Max Casinos have become available, numbers continue to increase and it would be interesting to see what may happen if the 30% levy is lifted and sites such as these can develop their own app.
This could still be quite some time away however, it is expected that this legal battle will be drawn out as much as possible especially if it means changing a core part of the app store business model, and with that, it’s uncertain just how much these changes could hurt both Apple and Google in the mobile space – their marketplaces are essential for many, but what happens when there is little incentive for either to be invested in pushing many apps?