Tim Sweeney: Android is a Fake Open System, and iOS is Worse

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney opened a game event in Las Vegas today with a call to make the industry more open and liberate it from the monopolistic practices of platform owners such as Google and Apple. From a report:

In a talk about his vision for games in the next decade, Sweeney alternated between criticizing all of the big players in the game industry to criticizing specific players with examples of how their behavior isn’t good for consumers or for competition. […] Sweeney called Android a “fake open system” for putting up barriers in front of users when Epic Games wanted to enable players to sideload Fortnite directly from the Epic Games site, rather than through the Google Play store. Sweeney said that Google put up “scary” pop-ups in front of users about the risks of sideloading (viruses, malware) and other steps that users had to engage in order to get Fortnite on Android. Epic also had in “tough discussions” with Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo to make Fortnite available as a crossplay title (meaning you can play against people on other systems, and your progress, items, and so on are available regardless of device) across the platforms.

One of the principles that Sweeney argued for was that “gamers should be free to engage in any game with their friends anyplace they want without any unnecessary friction.” He said that the platforms have been too balkanized, and Microsoft lost a whole decade of progress as it tried and failed to make its Windows marketplace more like Apple’s closed system. Microsoft has since backed off on that. Gamers and game vendors should be “free of lockdown.” He drew a comparison to Visa and Mastercard and the global credit card payment system, where vendors charge 2.5% to 3.5% fees for transactions, while store vendors such as Steam, Apple, and Google charge 30%. He said the global payments industry is proof that highly profitable companies can arise from just taking the 2.5% to 3.5% cut.