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Epic’s Battle With Apple and Google Actually Dates Back to Pac-Man

A 30% fee from the age of cartridges is at the heart of its fight with the giant gatekeepers of mobile gaming.

relates to Epic’s Battle With Apple and Google Actually Dates Back to Pac-Man
Photographer: Chris Delmas/Getty Images

Epic Games Inc. is out to prove it’s worthy of its name. It’s in a massive fight with Apple Inc. and Google over the 30% cut that both companies take from game revenues on their platforms. Epic contends that the fee is both outdated and unfair. The revenue split has its roots in 1980s Japan and the era of chunky cartridges and primitive consoles. Now it’s being questioned by game makers such as Epic across the global developer community.

The so-called platform “tax” dictates the distribution of vast sums of money. Epic’s own Fortnite is estimated to generate in excess of $1 billion annually from in-game cosmetics and extras. The company’s protest against the giants escalated when it gave Fortnite users the option to buy the add-ons directly—which would cut Apple and Alphabet Inc.-run Google out of the transaction. That prompted Fortnite’s removal from both the iPhone’s App Store and the Android Play Store.