For those not in the know, which is no one, Fortnite is a fort defense game that saw rise in popularity with the addition of its battle royals mode. It still retained the elements of fort building but now instead of zombies, you were fighting other players to be the last standing. This Epic Games creation has become such a pop culture phenomenon that everyone wants a piece of the pie. From football to Star Wars releasing crucial plot information for their latest flick, Fortnite has its pick of the entertainment industry crop.
Epic Games has always used the money its received from Fortnite and its cultural status to try to shake up the status quo. At first they took pot shots at Steam. This was a move I was initially for as Steam really did need a competitor. Epic Games threw their weight around to snag several exclusives including Kickstarter backed games that already had promises for Steam keys to backers. No one liked that. You cannot blame the devs for taking the exclusivity deal in some cases as the Epic Store allows them to keep more percentages of sales vs Steam. The stage was set, one way or another, and Epic Games has situated itself as a staple online store for many gamers.
Not content with taking the piss out of steam, Fortnite’s latest battle is with Apple, Google, and Android. I will be speaking mostly on Apple as they’re the store I’m most familiar with and the one Fortnite addresses more directly in this article. Apple has a clause that any in app purchases must be done through the Apple store and Apple takes 30% of the sale. Fortnite released a workaround where if you purchased directly from them, you got a 20% discount on your sale. Apple and Android did not like this and immediately pulled Fortnite from both of their shops for violation of the clause. Epic Games was not going to take this laying down.
In an ad lacking any hint of subtlety, a crowd of people listen to a rotten and worm infested Apple spew some 1984 rhetoric. That’s not something you have to infer either, Epic tells you in the ad that Apple is a 1984-eske corporation. A female Fortnite player character steps in holding the Fortnite piñata head on a stick and throws it at the screen, breaking it and the spell in the crowd. They snap to their senses and begin to riot. Epic ends the ad with the hashtag #freefortnite which is the moment I lost it. It’s cliche to say at this point, but what even is 2020?
The ad calls for gamers to stand up to the Apple corporation and not accept them taking such a big cut of purchases made on their store. Epic’s ad is a reference to an Apple to IBM ad and thus Epic is giving Apple a taste of its own medicine. Epic knows it has a huge following and with quarantine keeping us inside, people are playing games more than ever before. What happens next is uncertain, but Epic is not one to back down from a fight. I eagerly await Apple or Android bowing down to the cash cow and what sort of precedent that will set. I await it less at the cringe statement of “nineteen eighty fortnite.”