While starting out as a Battle Royale game, no-one could deny Fortnite’s current status as a budding metaverse. After all, its hosted live concerts, virtual art galleries and even the Cannes film festival. And as Epic’s centrepiece grows in importance and power so it becomes embroiled in their on-going battles with Apple and Google over the monopoly both giants currently flex over their app stores.
Speaking to The Financial Times, Epic chief executive Tim Sweeney expressed his concern that Apple and Google could now use their monopoly on smartphones to dominate the metaverse.
“The problem here is a classic monopoly tie. You start with hardware. Apple makes smartphones and they profit from their smartphones-and they deserve to,” Sweeney told FT. “But then they force all buyers of their smartphones to use their app store exclusively for obtaining digital content. They prevent all other app stores from competing with them on hardware that’s owned by a billion end users. That’s the first tie and that completely obstructs all competition and market forces that would shape better app stores and better deals for consumers.”
Sweeney explains how Apple forces any app on their store to process payments through Apple’s payment processing service, which charges 30 percent. That’s a whopping 27 percent more than PayPal charges per transaction. He argues that Apple should have to compete fairly and should offer a more competitive fee for processing payments.
“I’m terribly afraid the current monopolies will use their power to become the next monopolies on a new generation of platforms-and continue to use that power to exclude all competition,” added Sweeney. “They’ve built their platform lock-in, which makes it extremely hard for any company to compete, even if they were able to compete on fair terms. But then they don’t let them compete on fair terms.”
Checking Apple and Google’s power
Both Apple and Google argue that by curating and hosting the software in their stores they’re able to offer a consistent service which works, free from bad actors and spyware and worse. And, in doing so, they require a cut of the profits to keep the whole thing running.
Sweeney on the other hand thinks both platforms should allow anyone and everyone to run whatever they want on their hardware, and now sees this as a threat to future developments: If Google and Apple aren’t forced to change their smartphone practices, the two tech giants will undoubtedly dominate the metaverse. And Sweeney, for one, doesn’t want this to happen.
“And if you looked at the terms structure, Apple and Google have created terms that will give them a stranglehold over the metaverse, unless there are major changes in the practices they’re allowed to get away with.”
The full interview can be found on FT.com.