In vaguely Fortnite-related news: The App Store is about to get a lot cheaper for developers — smaller developers, that is, which is unlikely to do Epic Games any good. Still, today’s news that Apple will be halving its App Store fees from 30% to 15% for developers who make less than $1 million in annual net sales is probably the result of its ongoing lawsuit with Epic and was characterized as an “olive branch” by CNBC.
The new policy will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021 and will also apply to new developers. It’s unlikely to have any significant impact on Apple’s bottom line, as CNBC reports that the top 1% of app publishers generate 93% of the store’s revenue. Apple made the case that the changes will have a positive effect on apps designed for e-learning, which are more popular now in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As for Epic, it’s made an estimated $1.2 billion from the App Store, so it would be just a little bit over the $1 million threshhold if it were to return to the store. This small measure taken by Apple is also unlikely to move the needle too much in its direction with regards to the court case, but could at least buy a droplet or two of public goodwill — which could still have value, even if the court proceedings wind up going against Apple.
UPDATE: TechCrunch is reporting that Epic CEO Tim Sweeney has called the move an attempt by Apple “to remove enough critics that they can get away with their blockade on competition.”
Going further — and probably too far — Sweeney also likened Epic’s struggle against Apple to the fight for civil rights. In a tech conference, he reportedly compared the ongoing battle
“to civil rights fights, where there were actual laws on the books, and the laws were wrong. And people disobeyed them, and it was not wrong to disobey them because to go along with them would be collusion to make them status quo.”
And, just in case you were wondering if he was misquoted or didn’t mean what he said, Sweeney “clarified” himself in a Tweet, essentially saying, yep, that’s exactly what he said and meant:
It’s a good article. Hey critics, please read what I said and tell me if it’s actually wrong: When the rules were wrongful, it was right to disobey them. That’s the comparison to the civil rights movement. pic.twitter.com/WMomQXwEjr
— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) November 18, 2020
So there you go: In Sweeney’s and Epic’s mind, trying to earn a few more billion dollars, on top of the billions you already have, is equivalent to people fighting for basic human rights. The good news is, that if you still weren’t sure who to root for in this legal tussle, you should find it a lot easier to pick sides now. Thanks, Epic!