A lesson Epic Games could learn from Apple: don’t throw your own customers under the Battle Bus
When Epic Games tried to turn Fortnite players against Apple it made a grave miscalculation: Apple customers are fiercely loyal to the company, much more so than Fortnite players are to Epic.
Apple has earned such loyalty because it has a long history of looking after its customers. Outstanding service, a history of protecting users’ privacy and a long track record of delvering high-quality, long-lasting products has endeared Apple to hundreds of millions of customers for decades. Apple is far from perfect, but one thing it would never do is willfully harm its own customers.
That’s precisely what Epic Games has done. In its bid to score a PR victory over Apple and its controversial 30% cut on digital sales, Epic has ruined Fortnite for millions of players. While PC, console and Android users are now enjoying Season 4, Mac, iPhone and iPad players are marooned on the old Season 3 island, cut off from the rest of the Fortnite community.
For a brief moment this morning, when the Epic Games Launcher started downloading an update for Fortnite featuring Season 4 artwork, I thought Epic had come to its senses and surrendered. Instead, it just took me back to the same old, locked-down Season 3 island. It’s almost as is Epic is trolling its own customers.
Epic is trying to blame Apple for this mess, but it’s entirely one of its own making.
After Apple inevtiably booted Fortnite from the App Store for breaking its rules on in-app payments, Epic set in motion a pre-prepared PR and legal offensive. Epic came looking for a fight, it wasn’t an innocent victim, as other developers appear to have been.
In-game ads mocking Apple and prize tournaments for players on non-Apple devices might have sounded clever in marketing meetings, but they’ve failed to ignite. The #FreeFortnite campaign that Epic has tried to whip up is drowning in a sea of apathy. You can’t claim to be the David to Apple’s Goliath when you’re posting $4.2 billion of profit and charging kids $15 for a digital outfit that makes no difference to the game whatsoever.
Epic’s case against Apple has merit, but it’s fought the battle terribly, using its own customers as a human shield. Epic needs to wake the grown-ups, get Fortnite back into the iOS and Mac stores, and continue its battle in court.
Throwing your own customers under the Battle Bus is a truly terrible strategy.