Epic Games, creator of popular game Fortnite, has mocked Apple's iconic Super Bowl "1984" ad after the latter dropped Fortnite from its App Store for violating in-app payment guidelines.
Apple's original ad is set in a dystopia with a line of individuals marching in unison through a long tunnel. The ad was said to be inspired by George Orwell's book 1984 and mainly features blue and greyish tones. This contrasts with the full-colour shots of a female runner who is decked in a pair of red shorts, running shoes and white tank top. Apple's ad shows her being chased by police officers wearing riot gear as she races towards a large screen with the image of a Big Brother-like figure. The figure is giving a speech to celebrate the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives while a large group of audience, supposedly prisoners, watched without a hint of emotion.
When the female runner is close to the screen, she swings and throws a sledgehammer at the screen right when he announces "We shall prevail", destroying it. The ad ends with "On January 24th, Apple Computer will introduce Macintosh. And you'll see why 1984 won't be like 1984."
Not long after, Epic Games' parodied the ad featuring Fortnite characters who were seen staring at the Big Brother on screen, which is represented by an Apple, as it gives a speech about celebrating the first glorious anniversary of the Information Purification Directives. A female with bright pink hair and dressed in a purple outfit is seen running towards the screen with a group of officers chasing after her. In Epic Games' ad, the female also hurls an object towards the big screen, destroying it. The ad ends with the paragraph: "Epic Games has defied the App Store Monopoly. In retaliation, Apple is blocking Fortnite from a billion devices. Join the fight to stop 2020 from becoming "1984"."
Meanwhile, Google too has since removed Fortnite from its PlayStore for similar reasons, Reuters reported. As such, Epic Games also sued Apple and Google for removing Fortnite from their app stores. According to the court filings seen by Marketing, the lawsuits aim to end Apple's and Google's "anti-competitive actions". The lawsuit against Apple specified that Epic Games wants to end Apple's "unfair and anti-competitive actions" that Apple undertakes to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multi-billion dollar markets - the iOS app distribution market and the iOS in-app payment processing market.
"Epic Games is seeking injunctive relief to allow fair competition in these two key markets that directly affect hundreds of millions of consumers and tens of thousands, if not more, of third-party app developers," the court filing said. It explained that Apple "imposes unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintains" a total monopoly in the iOS app distribution market. The court filing also said that Apple has become what it once railed against, "the behemoth seeking to control markets, block competition, and stifle innovation". "Apple is bigger, more powerful, more entrenched, and more pernicious than the monopolists of yesteryear," the court filing said.
According to Epic Games, Apple’s anti-competitive conduct with respect to iOS app distribution results in "sweeping harms" to app distributors, who are foreclosed from competing with Apple and innovating new methods of distributing iOS apps to users outside the App Store. It also affects app developers, who are denied choice on how to distribute their apps, are forced to fork over more of their revenue on paid apps than they would if Apple faced competition, and on occasion have to abandon their apps altogether if they cannot earn a profit given Apple’s 30% tax. Epic Games added that consumers will also be impacted, as they are likewise denied choice and innovation in app distribution channels and are forced to pay higher prices and suffer inferior customer service from Apple, the unwelcome middleman.
Meanwhile on Google's case, Epic Games wants to end its "unlawful monopolisation and anti competitive restraints "in two separate markets - the market for the distribution of mobile apps to Android users, and the market for processing payments for digital content within Android mobile apps.
"Epic Games seeks to end Google’s unfair, monopolistic and anti-competitive actions in each of these markets, which harm device makers, app developers, app distributors, payment processors, and consumers," the suit added.
According to Epic Games, Google has eliminated competition in the distribution of Android apps using myriad contractual and technical barriers. Google’s actions force app developers and consumers into Google’s own monopolised Play Store. Google has thus installed itself as an unavoidable middleman for app developers who wish to reach Android users and vice versa.
"Google uses this monopoly power to impose a tax that siphons monopoly profits for itself every time an app developer transacts with a consumer for the sale of an app or in-app digital content. And Google further siphons off all user data exchanged in such transactions, to benefit its own app designs and advertising business," it added.
Epic Games clarified in both lawsuits that it is not seeking monetary compensation from the court for the injuries it has suffered, nor is it seeking favourable treatment for itself. Instead it seeks injunctive relief that would deliver Google's broken promise of an open, competitive Android ecosystem for all users and industry participants, as well as have Apple allow fair competition in app distribution and in-app payment processing. Fortnite remains available on Google Play, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, Mac, GeForce Now, and the Epic Games app on Android.