Nelius says the V-Bucks shenanigans were a careful trap laid by Tim Sweeney: When Apple and Google booted Fortnite out of their app stores, Epic was all ready to hit them back that same day with legal action. When Apple and Google kicked Fortnite off their platforms, that gave Sweeney an opportunity to bring the fight into court. Together, Apple and Google dominate the market for mobile phone operating systems, which makes them subject to antitrust scrutiny. By demonstrating how much power those companies have, Sweeney is aiming a spotlight at the issue.
To be clear, this isn’t David and Goliath. Epic is worth many billions of dollars, with huge corporate investors behind it. But that’s what makes Sweeney’s move so interesting. With all the money it’s raking in for digital goods—goods that have no marginal costs, that represent pure profit—Epic could afford to let that 30 percent go. For smaller game companies, it’s a much more painful concession.
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“It hurts the little guys more than it actually hurts Epic,” Nelius says. “So Epic is trying to stand up for the smaller developers who are just trying to get their game out there and make a decent amount of money.” She says this is all in keeping with Tim Sweeney’s values, like when he let developers use Epic’s game development platform, the Unreal Engine, for free. He likes to help the people who actually make the games. Sweeney made fortnite generator his own game store on the web, where he takes a 12 percent cut from game makers instead of 30, but he can’t control what happens on people’s phones, and that grates on him. Nelius says, “Epic’s business philosophy for a long time has been [to] take as little percentage of commission possible from the developers because they’re kind of the whole reason why your store exists.”
Sweeney is choosing to use his considerable power and influence to change the reality on the ground. His effort to undermine the Apple-Google duopoly on mobile gaming platforms might turn out to be a bloodier fight than anything you see in Fortnite. A few other companies, like the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Microsoft, have already joined the fight on Epic’s side. And Nelius says it’s all just getting started: “I think Epic is in a really good position, and it’s going to be a wild ride, that’s for sure.”