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Apple and Epic and you, the megathread

I think we’d better have a single place to discuss this, so here it is.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/video…jects-ios-mac/

If you’re just checking the news after the last week, this is the latest drama in the world of game development:

  1. Epic took payments for Fortnite on iOS through their own system and Apple banned Fortnite from the app store.
  2. Epic had apparently planned for this and immediately launched a court case that revolves around anti-trust behaviour by Apple.

This all seems pretty reasonable. Unfortunately it doesn’t stop there.

  1. Apple locked Epic out of their dev tools (probably mostly just signing and Testflight) which effectively halts future iOS and MacOS support in UE.
  2. Apple also seem to be saying that they’ll detect UE apps during the app store approval process and block them.

This is obviously not too great for all of us. The potential fallout (as in IT HASN’T HAPPENED YET) is:

  1. Mobile development on iOS for UE stops.
  2. Some VFX applications are written off as well, as MacOS is fairly integral to a number of studio solutions. At the indie end, systems that rely on iOS for face tracking or AR data stop working.
  3. Apple devices that are almost the only occupant in that market space become unreachable. This can include things like iPads and Apple TV.

I think we all hope that this is a gambit that will pay off for Epic. It likely will, Apple app store policies are in violation of anti-trust laws, and by doubling down on other developers they’ve really proven Epic’s case for them. In the meantime local development shouldn’t be affected, so fingers crossed that this doesn’t drag on too long.

So how are you guys feeling? How are you affected?

It’s horrible news for people who develop iOS games (I’m one of them)

Thankfully not directly affected at the moment, but watching closely… In general, the timing of this is interesting in that its a real WTFU moment and time-to-act urgency for antitrust legislators everywhere. Especially in the EU / US, after 10+ years of all talk and no action - WTF? One thing that’s becoming clear though imo, is that this is more about lawyers being in charge than anything else. Lawyers have hijacked big-tech and killed off all the idealists and idea people! Lawyers are dictating the terms of this war, with only surrender being offered to both developers and consumers. So overall I’m looking forward to the world fragmenting post-covid, with world markets and the internet splitting off, as what we have right now isn’t working!

But its a dumb move by Apple after already banning Fortnite. They’re 2 trillion rich in market cap and yet its still not enough for them. Unchecked greed!!! Whereas before this, they had a lot of goodwill versus the rest of the FAANGS on a consumer and privacy level. So overall, this will be used against them as a test case by the antitrust crowd along with the banning of side-loading. I’m no fan of googhoul but at least Android ‘sort of’ offers that. Apple can’t win this battle ultimately and Epic are way ahead in terms of support. But Apple lawyers can drag this out for years because current antitrust legislation isn’t up to the job. (Legislators are out of touch or all pwned by lobbyists, and facebook / google / amazon etc are easier targets)…

This is nothing us tiny developers can do anything about.
All I can do, have been doing since 2015; I don’t buy Apple devices.

To answer my own question I was in the middle of pushing an AppleTV/UE solution in a new role, but if this carries on for too long there’s no way we’ll base a hardware launch on an unsupported combination. It’ll end up being a switch to our own TV device, or Unity, or both just due to the general distrust of Epic and Apple that’s forming. My personal experiences with Epic have always been positive, but that’s not enough to make major business decisions on.

Probably the worst timing ever as far as my job’s concerned.

At least the side project can switch to Android fairly easily.

I feel like when it comes to anti-trust Apple is actually an easier target than Google, which is why the pre-planned offensive isn’t responding to Google in the same way at all.

Now Unity can make a noble move: stop working with Apple.
This way Apple will have to make their fee civilized. Whole industry will win.

Btw all mobile publishers will stop working with iOS anyways.
Because Apple promised to disallow analytics by default in upcoming versions of iOS.
Without analytics mobile publishers won’t be able to buy traffic from Facebook, Admob, etc.

That’s true technically as blocking side-loading is a black and white issue. But legislators are looking more broadly at the economy and asking what’s causing the most harm right now… They see Google’s choke-hold on search as harmful… Amazon’s affect on online and bricks & mortar stores as damaging… Facebook’s affect on elections as toxic. So what’s more likely to get them to act??? They let all these issues slow boil for years, so now they’re all coming together at the same time. Which likely means even more indecision by lawmakers, and that could let Apple off the hook for now…

Worth noting too that right at this moment Apple is trying really hard to avoid a judicial anti-trust outcome by pretending to support the Right To Repair concept. But doing so in a shady manner.

Maybe their time has just come.

I don’t like Apple, and I certainly think they deserve a hard slap on the wrist for their anti-trust breaches and shady practises.

However I also do not like at all how Epic is manipulating children into hating Apple with their 1984 video being displayed in Fortnite. That’s just disgusting and really low. If you want be better than Apple, stop acting like you are not.

If I had kids, after this stunt it would be the last time they ever touched Fortnite or anything else by Epic.

I think if Unreal&Unity fight side by side. Maybe Apple&Google will reconsider it, give a lower fee <30% for game apps.

Tim Sweeney say: 12% is a sustainable store fee. Our operating costs are typically 5-7%. I believe in it. Apple should not need 30% for game apps according to this.

And then maybe SONY PS5, MicrosoftXbox, Nintendo Switch will affect by this too. Whole industry will win.

But I don’t think Unity will make this noble move. It is the best chance to beat back since UE4 goes free. Now Unity get the only ticket to silicon and AR. They are laughing.

I am a UE4-iOS developer. EPIC vs APPLE is a nightmare for me.

If you let me to choose 30% or break up with Apple. I will choose 30% definitely.

I know it is a fight. And I am on your side now. I don’t know who will be the winer. **But please remember:

I hope you win.

But If you don’t: **
Please make sure it won’t hurt US - UE4-iOS developers.
It is not about money.
It is about feeling.
We are not calling for this fight.
We are innocent.
Make it quick.
Don’t take it too long.
Because the pain will be remembered.

I think it’s worth noting how Tim Cook recently denied, before US Congress, ever retaliating against developers for complaining about their App Store fees, and said it’s against their company culture. Apple’s time has finally come, with their monopolistic practices, recent reports (talking about ASPI report here) about use of forced labor in Apple products, and their disposable devices, hopefully US government will finally do something about them.

One thing that the legal system didn’t catch up with was how companies started to own the market and means for communication. What Apple just did shows how they can destroy your business with a single decision, because you dared to oppose them. This should have never been possible.

As much as I think 30% cut are too much for Steam and Apple, Tim Sweeney did admit that the 12% store fee is not sustainable.

Without Fortnite and Tencent money, Epic wouldn’t be able to keep up the low 12% cut.

Let’s keep the facts straight here. Epic did deliberately breach Apples Terms of Service, which they signed when they entered a deal with them, by circumventing their store payment processes and encouraging users to do the same - by offering a 20% price cut ONLY when they use Epics ingame payment method (which circumvents Apples).

This, in my opinion, was a really dumb move, because through this they forced Apple to kick them out. Instead of abiding by their rules and then starting a public protest & taking them to court.

Now Apple can use this deliberate and full willing breach of a signed agreement against Epic in their court battle, which will give Apples lawyers so much more argumental advantage.

Yes, absolutely. But there are 2 major issues here:

  1. Apple is controlling their platform in a monopolistic way. They want to ensure they’re the only middle man, and profit off that monopoly. This is anti-consumer and has to be regulated.
  2. Apple went further then just banning Fortnite with essentially Unreal Engine ban. Clearly no longer about what Epic did with payment system, it’s directed at people using a specific set of tool, not because these tools became suddenly an issue, but because they want to attack the company that made those tools.

And lawsuits aside, for the developers community and consumers, we can’t allow this. And this isn’t only software, look at Amazon for example. It seems like big companies found a loophole to control and exploit the market by essentially owning the market, buying out any startup competition they might have, monopolizing the basic software that devices use etc.

Let’s say you want to sue a company you work for over something. They fire you, but it doesn’t stop there, because they monopolized electricity, housing, water etc, and you get all of those as a part of big “terms of service” and now they deny you all the basics you need, and they also deny them to your family and friends, guilt by association. This is what’s happening in Epic’s case but in the business, not individual aspect.

I agree with most of what you said, but Apple isn’t a monopoly. I see this argument thrown around so much these days, but it doesn’t mean what most people think it does.
This comment by David Haynie explains it quite well: https://www.quora.com/Why-isnt-Apple…red-a-monopoly

And Epic didn’t just stage a public protest over Apples anti-consumer behaviour. They deliberately broke their signed agreement, encouraged users to do the same, sued them in court AND manipulated children into hate against Apple with their 1984 video being played in Fortnite.

Sure, Apple isn’t a better company (they guilty of plenty of human rights issues with their phone production), but if Epic wants to play dirty, why cry when Apple does the same? Epic brought this onto themselves AND all of us developers who build on iOS.

Is this a right move my Apple? Clearly not, it is anti-developer and anti-consumer, and I would love to see Apple losing power and being forced to be more open.
But let’s stay clear here and remember one thing, this is a fight between two multi-billion dollar companies who want to grow as much as possible. This whole fight is solely about profits, not about making the industry more “fair and open”, no matter what each side is telling the public.

The monopoly argument is weird because iPhone global market share is around 14%. iOS is not a public need like water, electricity and such. They can do with their product whatever they want. iPhone buyers want this closed platform with curation and security without bloatware.

Did you know that Epic controls 100% of Unreal Engine? Shocking, i know.
For small Devs like us, we are again a leaf in the wind. At the mercy of bug fixes and neglected frameworks (AR). Epic gives and Epic takes away.
We wanted to release on iOS end of this year and now are screwed.

Fortnite kids do not know the original apple ad from 1984. This is for media and really funny. People who thinks this is hateful don’t get the joke, perhaps because they don’t know the original apple ad. Epic is now very prominent in mainstream news. Free publicity. Preparing a stock market launch? Pure speculation.

Why not spend some of their dev grants and team up with partners to support an open source alternative OS (Firefox OS, Ubuntu Touch and others no one ever heard of).

Not in the market of hardware, but in the market of software certainly. They control who gets to publish the apps, and as you can see, also who gets access to development resources for the platform. And while it’s not a neccessity for living, it is a neccessity for business for a lot of companies, or at least a large share of their revenue. That gives Apple massive leverage.

You don’t need to use Unreal Engine. It’s one of many tools out there. But if you want to develop an app for iPhones, you either work with Apple or you make some sort of side-loaded niche app, which most users won’t have access to. And even on Android, if you’re not on Play store, most users probably won’t bother. Your audience will be very limited

Remember when Microsoft wanted to get into the mobile OS market? That didn’t work even with their resources. Now they did make some mistakes, for sure, but they did identify their biggest weakness right away, which was access to applications, originally developed for other platforms. They tried to fix it with various grants and programs for developers, very generous ones. It never really worked.

I think ultimately the issue here is that they control the product AFTER you buy it, by ensuring it can’t be repaired or changed and that you don’t have full control over it.

I think there might be hope for you, as big companies generally don’t like loosing money. And blocking Unreal Engine means loosing money for them. So ultimately it might all be just a show, and they will quietly come to some sort of agreement or at least Apple will loosen it’s embargo.

I know of the original Apple “1984” ad that was targeting Microsoft. As someone who knows the original 1984, this was never funny. It wasn’t when Apple did it, nor when Epic did it now.
And if it’s just for the media, why not publish it solely on their Twitter? Why play it in Fortnite, with an audience of mostly 12- 15 years old kids?

This was intentional to rile up the young Fortnite user base against Apple, and that is just despicable.

IBM. Windows didn’t even exist in 1984.

CNN had a 5 minutes report on this.
They explained the 30% cut and said Tinder + Spotify have both joined Epic against Apple…