This summer in gaming has been a confusing one to say the least. The absence of E3 was particularly jarring for many gamers. Despite this fact, we still had a large influx of news sprinkled in across the past few months. With the next generation of consoles right around the corner, you’d think one of the big gaming companies such as Sony or Microsoft would have the honor of breaking the most impactful news stories throughout the summer, and yet, neither of them have that honor. Instead, the honor goes to Epic Games.
For those of you, somehow, out of the loop, Epic Games had declared war on the tech giant Apple claiming the terms of service on the app store is unfair and on the monopoly side of the spectrum. Right about now you may be wondering how the war between two large corporations can be the most impactful news in the world of gaming, so allow me to break this down.
As it currently stands, all transactions purchased through Apple’s app store take a 30 percent cut from developers and it goes straight to Apple instead. Epic’s quarrel with Apple comes in the form of it’s V-Buck sales in Fortnite of which Epic Games created an option to bypass Apple’s 30 percent cut causing all the whole outbreak of their “war”. Of course, this cut doesn’t just apply to Epic every developer who puts their game on the app store faces it.
What this means is that indie developers, the games studios that take bigger risks and think outside the box, are losing a third of their revenue simply because the platform they put their product on is charging them for being the middleman. Compare the app stores 30 percent to the Epic Game Store’s 12 percent cut and you immediately understand why many developers take Epic Store exclusive deals.
If Epic Games manages to wear Apple down into dropping their high commissions, then the impact this will have will be felt across the entire industry. If Apple, one of the largest entertainment companies in the world, buckles and lowers their cut, then the pressure would be put on both Sony and Microsoft who also currently take the same 30 percent cut from developers to act as the middleman.
This would change everything on the development side of games. The studios who actually make the video games we love get paid more money and when studios have more money they have access to more resources, better assets and more personnel with the existing staff members also getting paid more.
Over the years, we’ve all heard reports about how game developers are often overworked and underpaid which leads to tumultuous game developments. With a lowered industry standard commission from the middlemen, this issue could begin to go away. When these developers get more money for their staff and studios, we as gamers get better games with developers who weren’t in any way abused, clearing our conscience in the process.
If you told me a year ago that Fortnite would be such an impactful, industry-changing game, I simply would not have believed you, and yet here we are. Fortnite is the catalyst for the change that the video game industry desperately needs. The only unfortunate side to all of this change is that it’s completely in Apple’s hands. So if you were ever on the fence about who was right in this whole Epic vs Apple ordeal, I hope you now have a better understanding of what’s at stake here.