Apple has always had a complicated relationship with the game industry, but this month that relationship slid into a bitter and very public legal and regulatory war that could shape the future of iPhone apps. The first escalation occurred when Apple laid out in clear terms why it has no plans to ever approve cloud gaming services from its tech rivals Google and Microsoft. The second was when Apple kicked the massively popular battle royale hit Fortnite off the App Store after its creator, Epic Games, provoked the company with a rule-violating update.
Epic countered Apple’s removal with an antitrust lawsuit, prepared well in advance and complete with a detailed 62-page legal complaint. It may be a strong enough case to impose long-lasting changes on Apple’s business. But Epic’s dramatic public performance — an unprecedented bit of corporate trolling the likes of which we’ve never seen — sets up the feud with Apple as a fight bordering on good versus evil, with Apple the corporate bad guy aggressively taxing and restricting developers. Epic’s complaint argues that behavior also breaks the law.
The company is also suing Google on similar grounds, after Google removed Fortnite from its Play Store. But as Epic made clear in an unprecedented video mocking Apple’s iconic “1984” Macintosh ad — one that also aired directly to players within the virtual world of Fortnite itself — the primary target here is Apple and its longstanding and often controversial stewardship of the iOS app ecosystem.