In prior coverage of the ongoing Apple/Epic legal conflict, I’ve come under the accusation of providing biased coverage in favor of Apple over Epic Games. The idea governing this notion appears to be that because Apple is a much worse company than Epic Games, coverage should thus favor Epic over Apple by edict of popular consensus. With the issue again appearing in the news, what better time to discuss how this is patently insane.
What is essential to understand is what Epic is fighting for. Tim Sweeney, Epic’s CEO, and primary owner, has gone on record claiming he is fighting for the underdog to garner fair treatment for smaller developers. Never mind smaller developers are often denied when they request to put their game on the Epic Store until they become popular on Stream. In reality, Sweeney wants to have the several decades-old legal precedent that you own the ecosystem on the devices/technology you create abolished.
What this means in practical terms is no one would own what they develop. If that sounds like socialism, that’s because it right out of the communist manifesto. This would allow developers to put products on Playstation, Xbox, Switch, the Apple Store, and the Play Store without providing a cut to the respective owners slash developers of the ecosystems. These companies are then expected to maintain these ecosystems and develop their successors without monetary compensation.
So what would happen if Epic actually succeeded and US courts ruled these companies no longer had the right to own or profit from their ecosystem. That said ecosystems, were in effect communal property. Historically when a nation has taken ownership away from businesses or individuals, what tends to happen near-universally is those with money capable of getting out do so immediately.
Foreign investment in that nation dries up as international businesses deem the risk too high for any amount of profit to warrant the undertaking. Foreign aid, which is less applicable to the US, diminishes in quantity.
Companies and individuals move to nations that allow for the greatest profiting from their undertakings—resulting in the tech sector in the US partially collapsing. In part from flight and in part from foreign investment diminishing and shifting into nations with more favorable laws.
Those that remain do not innovate. There is no reason for them to innovate, so the responsibility for maintaining the ecosystem would have to shift if it is at all possible. Some companies will opt to shutter their ecosystem. How far this goes will depend on how far the precedent is applied.
Then after a decade or so of stagnation with rival nations seeing development far exceeding the United States, the US will be forced to rescind the ruling and pay for the companies to return. Some will, some will wait till they know it’s safe, others will laugh in the US’s face.
Essentially what Sweeney will have created is the tech sector equivalent of Zimbabwe. A nation that confiscated private farms, lost their farming sector to Zambia, saw foreign investment dry up, and now recently had to pay Billions of dollars in compensation to get the farmers to return. Why? If they don’t, the international community won’t return.
Economically speaking, this plays out like clockwork. To such a degree, there is no amount of hatred I could feel for Apple to make me spite myself by defending Epic.