The legal battle between Epic Games and Apple isn't slowing down, and its outcome could make gaming on iPhones a whole lot better for everyone.
It all started when Epic knowingly violated App Store rules, giving Fortnite players a way to purchase their beloved V-Bucks while avoiding the 30% fee mandated by Apple.
Apple responded by removing Fortnite from the App Store, to which Epic issued a lawsuit claiming that Apple is employing "unfair and anti-competitive actions."
Tim Sweeney, CEO of Epic Games
The whole thing is like watching spoiled high school students whine about their weekly allowance, but underneath the greed of billionaires is a silver lining—if Epic wins, the gaming industry might become a better place for all indie developers.
The life of an indie developer is tenuous. There's no guarantee that people will buy your game, and the chances of you selling enough copies to make a livable income is slim to none.
Developers for other platforms like Android and PC have a variety of marketplaces they can go through. On PC, for instance, you can sell your game on Steam, Epic Games Store, GOG, or forgo the usual platforms altogether and self-market.
But anyone who wants their game on an iPhone is required to go through the App Store and is subject to Apple's 30% fee.
Tim Cook, not a cook
That 30% fee on game purchases isn't the only things developers deal with.
Apple requires developers to pay $99 yearly subscriptions fees and keep their computers upgraded to the latest operating systems, which can mean otherwise unnecessary hardware purchases for developers.
By contrast, Epic Games store charges a 12% sales fee and Steam lowers its 30% fee as developers sell more copies.
GOG and Google Play stores also charge 30% like the App Store, but if a developer wants to get their game onto an iPhone—and they do because iPhone users tend to spend more money on apps than Android users and play more games—they don't have a third-party alternative.
If Epic loses this lawsuit, the 17 billion dollar–company will survive and developers will keep putting up with Apple's poor treatment.
But if Epic wins, smaller developers might get a better iOS ecosystem to thrive in.
There's no guarantee Apple will slash its 30% fee if it loses the lawsuit. But the door would be open for new marketplaces on iOS that don't charge exorbitant fees.
This would mean the App Store would have to compete to become a better marketplace, the environment for developers would be friendlier, and the mobile gaming industry would be better for everyone.
It's unfortunate that this battle is taking place on the backs of two billion dollar–businesses, but only a company with Epic's legal resources could afford this fight.