Epic’s Campaign for ‘Open Platforms’ Ignores Game Consoles’ Massive Closed Market

Kyle Orland, writing at Ars Technica:

Most if not all of the complaints Epic makes against Apple and Google seem to apply to Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo in the console space as well. All three console makers also take a 30-percent cut of all microtransaction sales on their platforms, for example. […]

On mobile platforms, Epic is calling the same kind of 30-percent fee “exorbitant” and says it wants to offer a more direct payment solution so it can “pass along the savings to players.” On consoles, though, Epic happily introduced a permanent 20-percent discount on all microtransaction purchases, despite there being no sign that the console makers have changed their fee structure.

Bingo. This is exactly the point I’ve been trying to make since the Xbox Game Pass controversy last week. Microsoft wants Apple to allow on iOS something they themselves will not allow on Xbox.

If you think Epic is right in principle about iOS and Android, then they ought to be making the same argument about Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch. A computer is a computer. “Consoles” are a business model and user experience design choice, and the iPhone and iPad are effectively app consoles, where games are just one type of app. It’s a shame (in more ways than this) that Apple TV isn’t a bigger player, because it’s just another variant of iOS.

But instead of fighting the game consoles, Epic is taking more of a hit: Fortnite players on Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch get the 20 percent reduction in price while Epic still pays the 30 percent cut of each transaction to the platform vendor. It’s a stunt, pure and simple.


Or maybe Epic just has a better relationship with console makers than mobile phone makers. […] Sony recently invested $250 million in Epic and prominently featured Epic’s Unreal Engine 5 in a recent major PlayStation 5 promotional demo, too. Even Nintendo, which traditionally uses its own technology for game development, has begun using Unreal Engine for its own titles in recent years. In a way, Epic can’t attack these platform holders without also attacking itself.

I’m sure that has nothing to do with it.

Friday, 14 August 2020