Fortnite publisher Epic Games prepares for battle against Apple


Epic Games

For those who got the reference, the video Epic Games uploaded to YouTube yesterday was brilliant.

Titled “Nineteen Eight-Fortnite”, the 48-second clip shows a crowd gathered in a grim, grey industrial setting. They stare dumbfounded at a giant screen that displays a black-and-white video of an anthropomorphic apple.

“Today we celebrate the anniversary of the platform-unification directive,” intones the apple, which has a bite out of one side through which a worm has poked its way out.

A woman clad in Fortnite’s pastel-hued Brite Bomber skin runs down the aisle dividing the seated audience. She stops and swings a Rainbow Smash Pickaxe around her like an Olympic hammer-throw champ. Then she lets the thing fly into the screen, shattering it.

It’s a reference to George Orwell’s Ninety-Eight-Four, sure. More pointedly, though, Epic Games has drawn the video’s imagery from the 1984 Super Bowl commercial through which Apple introduced the Macintosh personal computer to the world.

Compare Epic’s work with the original, below:

More than a tribute

“Nineteen-Eighty-Fortnite” is more than just a tribute to a pivotal moment in high-tech history, though. The video is a well-choreographed bit of trolling. Epic Games has a bone to pick with Apple.

On Thursday (August 13), Epic added an option whereby users would be able to pay the game publisher directly for in-app purchases in Fortnite. The game itself is free to download, but gives players the option to purchase character skins and weapons as upgrades. Epic’s move ran afoul of Apple’s practice of taking a 30 percent cut of in-app purchases. As a consequence, Apple pulled the game from its App Store.

In response, Epic filed a pre-prepared complaint against Apple in the U.S. Disctrict Court of Northern California. The game maker accuses Apple of engaging in anti-competitive behaviour.

“Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market,” Epic Games said in its legal filing.

Meanwhile, the Google Play Store pulled Fortnite for Android for the same reason.

“While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies,” a Google spokesman told CNBC. “However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play.”

Spotify supports Epic

Last year, the music-streaming service Spotify filed an anti-trust complaint against Apple in the EU. Unsurprisingly, Spotify has come out in support of Epic’s bold moves. The company released a statement yesterday that read:

We applaud Epic Games’ decision to take a stand against Apple and shed further light on Apple’s abuse of its dominant position. Apple’s unfair practices have disadvantaged competitors and deprived consumers for far too long. The stakes for consumers and app developers large and small couldn’t be higher and ensuring that the iOS platform operates competitively and fairly is an urgent task with far-reaching implications.

Other companies have had to make changes to their applications in order to get approved for the App Store. Last week, for example, ECentralSports reported that that the Facebook Gaming app had finally arrived for iOS users—without any games.

Facebook forced to change app

The Facebook Gaming Android app had been available since April, but iOS users had to wait. The holdup was caused by Apple’s policy prohibiting third parties from distributing games from their own in-app storefronts. In order to get its app approved for the App Store, Facebook had to remove casual games like Words With Friends and Uno.

“Unfortunately, we had to remove gameplay functionality entirely in order to get Apple’s approval on the standalone Facebook Gaming app—meaning iOS users have an inferior experience to those using Android,” COO Sheryl Sandberg said in a statement.

“We’re staying focused on building communities for the more than 380 million people who play games on Facebook every month—whether Apple allows it in a standalone app or not,” she added.

I have done a lot of different things over the course of my life and professional career. I have interviewed Oscar and Grammy winners and written cover stories for glossy newsstand magazines. I have played guitar in a rock band on national TV and run an independent music label for which I wrote all of the PR and marketing materials. In my spare time, I sweated out a novel about a world where raccoons are kings and dragons are real.

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