Epic Games has found itself butting heads with both Google and Apple, resulting in an ongoing lawsuit that is still being battled out in court. As a result of the court case, several internal emails and documents from the aforementioned companies have found their way into public domain. The Verge has sifted through droves of data, and discovered Epic’s aggressive strategy to conquer gaming through big exclusivity deals.
Epic Games is most known for Epic Games Store, a site for purchasing PC games. They are also the developers of the Unreal Engine which is used by many video game development teams worldwide. The engine powers games developed internally by Epic Games, including the highly successful game Fortnite.
Epic looking to conquer online retail through big exclusivity deals
Epic’s lawsuit against Apple and Google was spurred when Epic revamped its mobile app to allow for direct payment. Players who bought v-bucks directly through Epic were able to purchase them at discounted prices. The reason for this, according to Epic, is because “Apple and Google collect an exorbitant 30 percent fee on all payments”. In response, Apple and Google removed Fortnite from their app stores.
Epic’s lawsuit seeks no monetary damages but instead, as they write in their complaint, seek “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“.
Emails from both Epic and Apple have found their way into public domain as a result of the lawsuit. These emails reveal how Epic had outlined a plan to capture 50% of all PC gaming revenue through aggressively pursuing exclusive games. These emails are dated October 2019, and are contingent on Steam, a competitor online game store, not reacting.
Epic not hesitant to reach out to biggest players for PC-exclusivity
It seems Epic’s strategy of dominating PC gaming through exclusivity has not been entirely abandoned, as emails from September 2020 reveal ongoing plans to secure exclusive games. Epic had offered Sony $200m to secure 4-6 exclusive PC titles. The emails state that Epic is still “awaiting feedback”. Since September 2020, Sony has released Days Gone on PC. However, it is not an Epic exclusive.
Epic also extended an offer to Microsoft. There is little reason, it seems, to be optimistic about this deal. According to emails, Microsoft’s PC Game Pass’s leader stated that they were against what Epic was doing. Epic also considered Nintendo, but concluded that this would be a non-starter.
It is quite clear that Epic is willing to spend big money to get exclusives and entice gamers to its store. As emails reveal, a whopping $146 million was spent on securing Borderlands 3’s exclusivity. The game was Epic’s biggest launch yet. While the company may be securing lucrative exclusives in some arenas, it is clear from the response they receive from Microsoft that there is resistance on some fronts.
A verdict for the Epic vs Apple trial is expected later in 2021.