Apple is Disrupting the Gaming Industry and Could Alienate Themselves Entirely
Cutting off access to Epic Games’ widely-used Unreal Engine will have repercussions
The fact that Epic Games had baited Apple by consciously circumventing their in-app purchase system is now known by one and all.
Fortnite's eventual ban from the App Store, followed by a carefully planned marketing strategy of mocking Apple’s 1984 advertisement with a parody and a subsequent lawsuit was truly a dramatic sequence of events. For people, it was some true popcorn entertainment.
But what seemed like a clever plan by Epic Games to put a spotlight on the App Store monopoly didn’t go down too well with Apple.
The lawsuit which looked like a mere formality before Apple brings back Fortnite on the iOS ecosystem took an ugly turn.
Apple has now decided to revoke all developer accounts of Epic Games by August 28 and terminate their access from the developer tools of iOS and macOS.
This escalation is a big blow to Epic Games and has shocked the whole gaming community. No wonder, the firm was quick to file a temporary restraining order in the court to prevent Apple from revoking their access as the legal battle continues.
But Apple’s nasty move(if they follow it) might just come back to haunt them later as the damage isn’t just limited to Fortnite anymore.
Apple Crushing Unreal Engine Will Impact Millions Of Games And Developers
If Apple ends up cutting off Epic Games entirely from its ecosystem, the damage will be irreparable. While Fortnite brings Epic Games a huge chunk of revenue(possibly more than a billion per year from the in-app purchases) Unreal Engine has even bigger stakes at play here.
Unreal Engine is Epic Games’ platform for allowing third-party developers to build games and three-dimensional graphics for augmented reality applications. It’s the most sought after game engine tool today and is used by some prominent games like PUBG and developers all over the world.
A termination of Epic Game’s developer account and toolset for iOS and macOS will incapacitate them from supporting Unreal Engine software updates on Apple’s platform thereby crippling their business. It’ll force developers and other game studios to switch to Unity, the rival gaming engine.
While Epic Games knew their protest against App Store monopoly wouldn’t be an easy road but Apple’s quick retaliation is outrageous yet not that surprising.
In Apple’s own defense, a strong response was the need of the hour as Epic Games’ violation was deliberate. If they’d chosen to ignore it or had quickly lowered or exempted the 30% fee cut for Fortnite, the world would have forced them to rethink their policies for every application.
App Store is the iPhone maker’s gold mine. Having garnered over 50 billion dollars last year it’s a big source of revenue for Apple. They simply won’t give into Epic Games demands easily.
But, by going after Unreal Engine, a totally unrelated business, Apple has taken the fight to a whole new level. By showcasing their monopoly over developers' tools, Apple might have just strained its relationship with a ton of developers.
A threat to crush a smaller business just to keep their App Store monopoly intact puts the Cupertino tech giant in bad limelight. Especially in front of the gaming industry.
Even If Apple’s Epic Retaliation Is A Fluke, It’ll Have Bigger Repercussions
Only recently, Apple had disapproved of Basecamp’s rising mail platform, Hey, from App Store as it didn’t consider them as a reading application. Apple put forth a hard stance by stating they’d make no exceptions.
But we all know, what transpired. Apple budged and quietly approved Hey, just at the heels of WWDC 2020.
If history is anything to go by, the probability of Apple eliminating Epic Games from their ecosystem is rather low. After all, the two of them have shared a good relationship in the past and Apple is keen to bring them back the popular app, albeit on their own rules.
Regardless of how the next sequence of events pans out, Apple, for sure will face more heat.
Fortnite isn’t the first game to have criticized Apple. Microsoft xCloud, an emerging cloud gaming platform, Google Stadia, Facebook Games have all been barred from Apple by citing that they can’t review every game.
Each of the tech giants has called out on Apple’s inability to treat game streaming apps similar to movie streaming ones.
It’s no mystery that Apple has been pushing Apple Arcade, its own game subscription service for a year now. This makes their current stance against other such platforms anti-competitive.
Apple today, stands at the risk of alienating itself from the gaming industry completely. The rise of numerous clouding gaming services today and Apple’s obsession with walling their own garden can cause a shift in the customer base(especially among young users) from the iPhone to Android.
Epic Games’ gamble to eject Fortnite from the App Store might not have panned out the way they’d expected it to and now there’s a bigger chance of collateral damage.
While revoking Epic Games access from developer tools might make Unreal Engine obsolete, Apple will certainly face the music from the gaming industry.
For long Apple has been disguising its monopoly in the name of privacy. It’s worth noting that today, you can easily download apps and games on a macOS from outside the App Store but it isn’t the same case for iOS devices.
Such inconsistencies across platforms might hinder Apple’s own ambitious project to unify iOS and macOS, through the new silicon chips. A limited behavior on one platform does not leave a good impression on the users.
It’s a tricky situation for Apple, who despite having played a bold move, still has its back against the wall. They’re at a greater risk of losing their grip from the gaming marketplace more than ever today.
That’s it for this one. Thanks for reading.