In the latest development on the feud between Apple and Epic Games, CEO Tim Sweeney compared the legal battle between two multi-billion dollar companies to the struggles of fighting for civil rights in the 1960s. Everybody hated that.
In an interview with The New York Times, he relayed his frustrations with the ongoing legal tussle with Apple. It began with Epic Games adding its own payment system into Fortnite's iOS and Android versions, which is explicitly against the policies of both Apple's and Google's storefronts. "Epic believes that you have a right to save money thanks to using more efficient, new purchase options," justified the developer at the time. "Apple's rules add a 30% tax on all of your purchases, and they punish game developers like us who offer direct payment options."
Criticising the "App Store Monopoly" won it no favours with Apple or Google, and Epic Games was soon embroiled in lawsuits for its evident violation of the companies' agreements. Right now, neither Fortnite or Unreal Engine are available on iOS, and even Microsoft weighed in on the debate. "Ensuring that Epic has access to the latest Apple technology is the right thing for gamer [sic] developers & gamers," said Xbox boss Phil Spencer. Well, whichever side of the fence you're on, and whatever your argument, I'm sure we're all able to agree that comparing this argy-bargy with the civil rights movement is a clanger and a half.
"It's everybody's duty to fight," said Sweeney. "It's not just an option that somebody's lawyers might decide, but it's actually our duty to fight that... And that's why Epic mounted a challenge to this, and you know you can hear of any, and [inaudible] to civil rights fights, where there were actual laws on the books, and the laws were wrong. And people disobeyed them, and it was not wrong to disobey them because to go along with them would be collusion to make them status quo."
That's what he said, and clarified what he meant with the comparison in a response on Twitter. "There's no comparison between the struggle for fundamental human rights and this argument with monopolies, but there is much we can learn from the movement," replied Sweeney. "The tendency for companies is to negotiate privately for profit advantage, shying away from standing for real principles."
Here, he's walked back partially on his original comment, but it's still not a great look. The only thing is, the "real principles" of the civil rights movements of the '60s were driving for the end of institutionalised racial discrimination and segregation. Not quite analogous to two companies trying to make as much money as possible within the systems that they themselves set up. Furthermore, the debacle with Apple may have "significant and serious ramifications" for the gaming industry as a whole.
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