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Epic Games Locks Horns With Google And Apple In A Lawsuit Over Fortnite

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Epic Games Locks Horns With Google And Apple In A Lawsuit Over Fortnite


Google and Apple combined are responsible for providing a platform for downloading applications and are also the market leaders for app stores.  Almost every developer launches their app either on the Google Play Store and/or the Apple App Store, so that consumers and customers can see their products or services.  There are 2.8 million android applications available on the Google Play Store while the Apple App Store has close to 1.3 million apps available for its users in early 2020.

A popular game, Fortnite was removed from both Apple and Google platforms over ambiguity in the way Fortnite developer Epic Games conducted payments inside the gaming app.  This led to Epic Games filing lawsuits against both Apple and Google for banning Fortnite from their platforms.  Fortnite is one of the biggest battle royale games in the world right now and there are over 250 million Fortnite players in the world.  

Unfolding of the ban:

Fortnite’s latest game update offered all players a 20% discount on its in-game currency V-bucks,  but only if they paid Epic Games directly rather than using Apple or Google’s payment systems.  This did not sit well with Google and Apple as both platforms take a standard 30% of purchases on their app stores.  It also meant Epic Games broke the rules applying to both the stores.

Apple proceeded to remove Epic Games from their platform leaving ios users with no way to install the game.  Epic games released a video mocking Apple with a television themes advert similar to the one Apple used in their 1984 Super Bowl commercial.

A few hours later after the Apple ban, Fortnite vanished from the Google Play Store, as well.

What is the lawsuit

Documents available in the public domain through the United States court records system show Epic Games filed a complaint against Google in a California court, just as it did against Apple.  The lawsuit highlights Google’s motto which was once “Don’t be evil.”  Epic Games said “Google has relegated its motto to nearly an afterthought, and is using its size to do evil upon competitors, innovators, customers, and users in a slew of markets it has grown to monopolise (sic.)”

The lawsuit further goes on to describe a deal that Epic Games had reached with phone maker OnePlus to make its games available ‘seamlessly’ on their devices.  Epic Games said “But Google forced OnePlus to renege on the deal, citing Google’s ‘particular concern’ about Epic having the ability to install and update mobile games while ‘bypassing the Google Play Store (sic.)”

What is Epic Games looking for?

Epic Games says it wants the mobile app stores to be fairer for all developers.  Epic Games also highlights that it is not seeking a compensation payout or more favourable deal for itself.  However, they state any reduction in the 30% cut charged by both Apple and Google will help Epic Games favourably.  

 

Google said “The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores.  For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users.  While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies (sic.)”

Apple said in a statement “Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem – including its tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers.  Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users (sic.)”  It also said  “We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store (sic.)”

It will be interesting to watch the outcome of the lawsuit filed by Epic Games and if the courts will rule in the favour of a fairer market or in the favour of existing market rules.

 

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Quibi : Startup With A Billion Dollar Launch To Shutting Down All In Six Months

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Quibi : Startup With A Billion Dollar Launch To Shutting Down All In Six Months

While we see many startups doing exciting things, one should not forget the world of entrepreneurship is riddled with more failures than successes.  Hundreds of startups go bust without even making a mark every month while some go on to make a mark and go into oblivion once the consumer no longer needs their business model or products.  However, Quibi, short for quick bites, definitely takes the cake for going big with a billion dollar launch and shutting down, all of which took place in a span of six months.  So how did a billion dollar startup founded by some big names and partners with some of the biggest names in the world end up going bust?  Read ahead to find out the interesting story of Quibi.

Beginnings:

Quibi was founded by Dreamworks Animation co founder Jeffery Katzenberg and former Hewlett Packard Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman, both of whom have deep roots in the technology and Hollywood industries as well as having a wealth of experience running billion dollar corporations.  Quibi was launched on April 6th 2020, as a content provider which is delivered in ten minute episodes called Quick Bites on mobile phones.  Quibi’s target group was mainly a younger demographic.  It is important to remember the fact that the founders decided to launch Quibi in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and when the American public were locked in their homes.  The founders did not anticipate this act of god to severely derail their entire plans.

Problems:

While the founders decided to go ahead with Quibi, one of the major problems was the content could only be streamed on mobile devices as the resolution was curated for a mobile viewing experience.  The subscribers began complaining about not  being able to watch the content on the big screen in their homes.  It also launched without simple, easy ways to share or meme its shows on social media thereby decreasing the chances of talk being spread by word of mouth.  Quibi had a subscription model which began after a 90 day free trial and it cost  $4.99 a month with ads and $7.99 a month without ads.  The number of subscribers for Quibi did not go according to plan as the numbers fell way below their forecasting and also due to the presence of streaming giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and HBO Max.  Since the pandemic had already begun to cripple employment, subscribers were forced to choose wisely on where to spend their money.  There is also YouTube which is free and also has free ‘quick bite’ content meant Quibi’s chances of succeeding were becoming slim.

Jeffery Katzenberg initially hoped Quibi would be immune to the pandemic’s effect as people would want to consume more content.  However, he later went on to blame the COVID-19 pandemic for everything which went wrong with Quibi.  In an open letter both Whitman and Katzenberg wrote “Quibi is not succeeding.  Likely for one of two reasons: because the idea itself wasn’t strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing.  Unfortunately, we will never know but we suspect it’s been a combination of the two (sic.)”

Since the launch of Quibi, the application quickly fell out of the top 50 most downloaded apps within the first week.  

Star Studded Signings

Quibi has recruited a who’s who of stars to work on its programming, including Chrissy Teigen, Lebron James, Dwayne Johnson, Reese Witherspoon, Chance the Rapper, Kevin Hart, Jennifer Lopez, Idris Elba, Zac Efron, Tina Fey, Liam Hemsworth, Joe Jonas and Sophie Turner.  Some of the biggest names in Hollywood were roped in to make the series and they include Steven Spielberg, Guillermo del Toro, Antoine Fuqua, Catherine Hardwicke and Ridley Scott.

ALSO READ: Most Followed Influencer Accounts On Instagram

Shutdown:

Both Katzenberg and Whitman raised $1.75 billion to tackle the growing digital video market with Quibi.  However, due to the mounting pile of problems and the lack of diversity in viewing choices forced Quibi into shutting down and began the process of selling assets.  Quibi, which employed 265 people, plans to use its remaining cash of about $350 million to pay back investors.  On October 21, 2020, just six months after Quibi’s launch, The Wall Street Journal reported that the streaming service was shutting down.  This news was confirmed by the Quibi founders Jeffery Katezenberg and Meg Whitman.

The story of Quibi tells us that no one is immune in the cutthroat world of startups and entrepreneurship.  While Quibi set out to take on the content streaming giants, it probably fell to its own Hubris by asking consumers to subscribe for unknown new content over already established content giants like Netfllix, Disney Plus and Amazon Prime Video.  

 

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Google’s Hum To Search Feature Is Here To Make Searching For Songs Easier

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Google Hum,Google Search Feature, Hum to Search, Google's New Hum to Search,Google Song Searching Feature, Google Latest News 2020, New Google feature, How to Hum to Search for Songs, Hum to Search App, Hum to Search Feature, Startup Stories

When Shazam was released for the first time, the entire smartphone community breathed a sigh of relief because the app let users search for songs by making the app listen to what is being played in your surroundings.  Since then finding new songs and genres has become easier as searching for songs at your favourite clubs or at a friend’s party is now at one’s fingertips.  But, what if you only know a piece of music or a tune which is stuck in your head and no way to identify the song.

Google is making it possible to try to find a song with its new feature called ‘hum to search.’  The feature can listen to humming, whistling or singing to identify songs.  ‘Hum to search’ is triggered when you ask Google “what is this song?” and then proceed to perform bits of the tune to the best of your ability.  Google will then present a list of songs according to a percentage match score which comes closest to your performance.

ALSO READ: Google Relents By Deferring 30% Play Store App Fee For Developers 

Google’s machine learning algorithm converts the audio input into a numbers based sequence which it then matches with other song melodies and tries to find the closest matching tune.  The model was trained with several sources with actual people singing, humming and whistling in addition to real studio recordings.  Google’s algorithms can also strip away musical instruments, as well as the timbre and tone of the singer’s voice in order so it only relies on the actual numeric sequence in the song matching process.

The ‘hum to search’ option is live and currently supports more than twenty languages.  While the feature might seem minor in terms of utility it makes up for improving the quality of life on a major level.  Google has once again proved to the world as to why it is the best company out there with their ‘hum to search’ feature.

 

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Google Relents By Deferring 30% Play Store App Fee For Developers 

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Indian companies and startups are beginning to come together and are calling for an Indian companies only alliance, to take on tech giant Google.  This comes after a severe backlash from the Indian Startup ecosystem over Google’s billing policies.  Last month Google clarified apps which fall under the category of education, games, dating and other content must use its in-app Google billing system in India as long as the apps are distributed through Google Play store.  

Phones which run on Google’s open source operating system, Android, own about 90% of the smartphone market in India.  Paytm was pulled out from Google’s Play store for several hours after Google said Paytm violated its policies.  Sensing the disgruntlement among Indian startups, which incidentally also contribute to Google’s cloud business, the tech giant took the decision to defer the 30% commission till March 2022.

“We will be setting up Policy Workshops to help clear any additional questions about our play store policies (sic,)” Purnima Kocchar, Director of Business Development, Games & Applications, Google Play said in a blog post.

ALSO READ: Epic Games Locks Horns With Google And Apple In A Lawsuit Over Fortnite

The move was welcomed by the Indian Startup ecosystem as they believe Google is listening to their concerns while some leading startups believe this deferment offers a unique opportunity to come up with an Indian alternative for the play store under the Atmanirbhar Bharat push.  Paytm on Sunday said it is starting a service where other apps can be listed on its payments app and one can use them within Paytm, similar to a super app.  Paytm said it has been testing the mini app store with select users and it will be free of charge.  Paytm’s Mini App Store aims to  drive a self-sufficient India and retain consumer spending within the country, the startup said in a statement Monday.  Pioneered by Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat, mini apps are custom-built, low-cost software for basic mobile phones that offer users an app-like experience without the need to download full versions. 

Founder of CCAvenues, Vishwas Patel said “ust because Google owns the gate and the gateway to the digital ecosystem of this country, they should not act arbitrarily and enforce their rules and regulations which are contrary to our country’s laws.  Also, they cannot force Indian apps developers/owners selling digital services to compulsorily use the Google Billing and payment system and charge 30 % MDR (sic.)” 

India has a wealth of technical resources and it will be interesting to see how the Indian Startups will come up with ideas to create a new system which will bring down the digital monopoly of a behemoth.

 

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