Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/08/13/free-fortnite.html
Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/08/13/free-fortnite.html
Yay! It’s like totally 1984! Thank you large evil company fighting to stick it to large evil company.
I hope they win the right to strip mine children for money!
<Man, we really are in a boring corporate dystopia huh?>
In case people haven’t seen (or heard of) Apple’s 1984 commercial - it was an attack on IBM:
I think the Epic one is genius.
The 30% cut that Apple, Google, and Steam is excessive IMO. If Epic wins this fight, I think there could be some good that comes from it. But it’s really hard to hear Epic complain about anti-competitive behavior, considering they are far from sainthood.
Charging 5% royalties on games made with Unreal Engine - for life (caveats apply)
Using all that Fortnite money to coerce developers/publishers to exclusivity terms on their EGS platform that consumers overwhelmingly aren’t fans of
(allegedly) stealing game features/design concepts from their customers, then silencing them through acquisition when they sue (Tencent/Bluehole)
There are more, but that’s a few off the top of my head.
Edit: these points are inaccurate or otherwise invalid
Hard to know who to root against here.
Can it be both?
Let me take this opportunity to say how much I wish Big Tech companies would be broken up. The app store should be split out from Apple and carriers and iPhone resellers should have the opportunity to choose from among competing app stores, perhaps having more than one app store on a device. Would also be nice if Apple’s retail stores were split off and would sell competing hardware. And so on. I can also imagine splitting up Google’s search business from other businesses, including their ad network, services (APIs), cloud services and Android. I have very little hope in Harris / Biden making this happen though as they will be getting strong support from Big Tech
Is that really that bad of an option, though? I mean, unlike Apple / Google stores, where you’re kinda locked on the platform, the Unreal Engine is just one of many options. Don’t like Unreal’s terms, pick a different engine to build off of. And 5% doesn’t seem like that much compared to the 30% everyone else seems to charge.
It’s currently free/open license to actually use and there are no royalties till a game breaks $1m in revenue (not sales). And I’m reasonably sure it’s fairly usual for engines and what have to charge a royalty, that’s sort of the point.
That said I have no clue if 5% is high or low. There’s some game dev people on the board who probably know more about that situation. Like I think @Shuck is in the business.
Those 5% royalties are a really great deal for developers, though. Licensing engines cost - it used to cost a great deal of money upfront and a percentage, now it’s just a percentage. Epic take a particularly low cut for selling games on their storefront compared to the Apple store or Steam, and if you use their engine, they essentially waive the licensing fee. It’s incredibly developer-friendly.
The exclusivity deals aren’t popular (with users, that is), but I find that quite silly - because they’re only timed exclusives. Developers get more money, and consumers can still buy those games on other storefronts, but after a slight delay. No choice has been taken from consumers. People complain that Epic doesn’t have the features Steam does, but neither did Steam at first - it’s taken them years to add on features, so it’s absurd to expect Epic to have it right out of the gate. Even if they did, Steam is a social network with a lot of users. Epic needs some way to attract users to have any chance of competing - thus the “exclusives.”
I’ve not heard any credible accusations of design theft against Epic. The idea that they somehow “stole” the idea of “battle royale” for Fortnite is… silly. The game industry is constantly copying itself - almost everything is an imitation of something else. Everyone constantly looks to what’s popular at the moment for design ideas and implements their version. Epic’s version just got more popular than some of the earlier games. That’s life.
In this particular case, Epic is (correctly) pointing out that Apple is ignoring their own rules on when direct payments can be made through apps. (Specifically, when buying something that can be used outside that app. E.g. music, or in this case, items for a game that can be used by the player on multiple platforms, not just through the iOS app.)
It’s a great option, actually, even though the 5% only covers engine usage, not sales in their store. But 5% is fairly standard now - it’s what Cryengine asks for, I believe - and it only kicks in after a million dollars in sales, so smaller developers pay nothing to use the engine. (Unity has no royalties, but if sales exceed $100,000, you need to pay per-user licenses for the software itself, which quickly adds up.) Epic’s storefront also takes a significantly smaller cut to sell a game than Steam (or the Apple Store) does, and if you use their engine and sell through their store, they waive the licensing fee entirely. They’re giving aggressively good deals to developers to woo them into using their engine and selling on their storefront.
It’s pretty clearly a means to an end as well. I don’t think you’ll see anyone legitimately chipping away at Steam’s dominance without that sort of thing, and without Epic’s kind of money.
I and a number of people I know actually prefer it. The vast bulk of Steam features are sort of useless, like are trading cards really inherent to the functionality of your games? Do I really need to get notified every time my cousin scratches his ass?
I kind of like that the Epic store just sells me things (or really so far gives me things for free that I might buy DLC for). And it doesn’t even load up to the store page. There’s a very soft sell sort of approach to the thing that I kind of like. It’s clean. Though some of those Steam features people are bitching about are probably pretty useful if you care about multiplayer.
Yeah. I see people argue that if Epic had the same features as Steam, they could compete on that, but it’s a dumb argument, as Steam is a social network. If you have two identical social networks, but one has a lot of users and the other none, the one with actual users obviously has the advantage.
Yeah, there are arguments to be made to not have a lot of the features Steam has, but it does have some things that are useful. The chat/voice chat, game matchmaking, the Workshop (user-created mods) functionality is popular, the forums (with users - not so much with developers who are expected to keep an eye on them as well as their own forums), etc. And Epic’s store has some truly inexplicable missing features, even for this early stage. E.g. a “shopping cart” that holds multiple items for purchase at once, whose absence is doubly dumb - because their asset store already has that functionality, and because making multiple purchases in rapid succession (e.g. during a sale) causes some flag to be tripped that causes problems.
But I forgive Epic a lot given their efforts to improve conditions for developers, as well as trying to provide real competition for Steam, which is also good for players.
I appreciate your perspective on the royalty system. When they changed the licensing terms (I am not a game dev) and saw that 5% and thought “wow… that’s BS”. But apparently it’s a better deal (or at least on par) with the industry. TIL.
I think (and this is pure speculation) that part of the resistance to EGS is that it’s yet another launcher that’s forced down customers throats that is missing useful features, and makes library management a nightmare.
As for the theft- I thought I recalled reading about PUBG complaining that Epic was screwing them with Unreal changes… so I went looking for information on that to back up my memory. I can’t find anything that supports it, so mea culpa. It appears I may have been conflating the PUBG complaints about copyright infringement with Silicon Knights lawsuit from some years past.
So here is what I don’t understand, and perhaps someone can explain it to me:
The 30% that Apple and Google take seems to be the standard on…like everything. Which doesn’t make it right… but why is Epic picking a fight with Apple and Google, but ignoring Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft, who also charge 30%?
Besides, we are currently living in the idiot version of 1984.
Look, Apple, I get it. When you first started the App Store, you had good reasons: the first was that AT&T was paranoid about your brand new pocket computers spreading viruses, both you and AT&T said so at the time. And hey, I also get that 30% seemed like a fair trade-off, as retail markup for software at the time was much higher, and it seemed like a safe number to cover operating costs.
Thing is, no one really believes that 30% is needed any more to keep the store self-sufficient, that it actually turns a good profit. And really, you could wean yourself off of being the only provider by forming partnerships with places like Steam. We like you as a hardware company that also cares about the quality of the UI, not so much as a gatekeeper. Just give us the devices we love, and let others innovate and find new ways to use these tools you give us.
As for you, Epic, sure, you make a pretty popular game, but you guys just don’t have a good reputation. You’ve made a lot of shit over the years, and treated your developers (all employees, actually) like disposable parts that can used and tossed into the trash when you’re done. Okay, you realise that now, and are trying to make amends, but I still don’t trust you guys.
I admit, I have my biases as I was a Mac user when Apple was doomed. So I have been following Apple for a long, long time and admit to a certain affinity. And I never got into Fortnite – I find it neat, and like the way it doesn’t take itself too seriously, I just prefer walking simulators. And I do get the feeling that the culture of Fortnite is changing the culture at Epic, even if I still have a gut feeling that the owners are only in it for the money and don’t really understand their own product.
Good luck with that lawsuit, Epic, you’re going to need it. Maybe the timing is perfect if Biden/Harris push through changes on anti-trust enforcement that override 40 years of American governments believing monopolies don’t really matter anymore. I doubt it, though. All Apple has to do is prove the rules are consistent for everyone.
I find myself not caring, though. Both Apple and Epic are wealthy companies with a variety of structural and cultural problems, histories of various abuses, and neither of them are worth my compassion. I wouldn’t play a game like Fortnight on a phone, I rarely use apps I have to pay for, and I never ever make “in-game purchase.”
Frankly, I have better things to do with my money, like waste it on these super cool Marvel statues for my workout room.
That’s basically how it works with Android.
It definitely is but it’s pretty lousy at it despite it having a good number of features, i used it as my primary way of talking to online friends for years and for a long time it did everything i needed it to do but for the last 5 years or so i barely use it other than just launch games. Discord is pretty much where its at.
Honestly Epic doesn’t need to compete with Steam on all of its features because these days gamers are primarily using other platforms to talk to their friends or with their audience if they’re streaming. It would be interesting to see them integrate Discord and Twitch features into it, would definitely set it apart from Steam but it wouldn’t make me use their launcher any more than i already do but might get others to use it more.