Epic Continues to Make its Super Serious Apple Lawsuit into a Meme with Fortnite Event

So much for not weaponizing the game's fanbase.

As much as any of us would like to believe that Epic Games’ ongoing lawsuit between it and Apple has anything remotely resembling good intentions behind it, it’s really hard to feel that way when the Fortnite developer is using its game’s events to memeify the entire thing.

Late last night, Epic announced that it would be hosting a #FreeFortnite Cup that really leans into the anti-Apple imagery of its animated parody “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” that referenced Apple’s old “1984” ad. Specifically, anyone who participates and gets enough points (based on various in-game factors that I’m not really interested in breaking down here) will get a skin based on the “Tart Tycoon” character meant to represent Apple’s corporate greed by taking a 30% cut from all in-app purchase from games and apps on the App Store.

Additionally, the top 20,000 players during the cup will receive this fucking hat (pictured below) with the words “Free Fortnite.” on them, as well as the logo Epic has concocted for this whole movement featuring the Fortnite llama colored in with the colors of Apple’s logo circa the late ’70s to late ’90s.

The announcement itself is uh, charged, to say the least. For all of Epic saying that it’s not trying to weaponize or radicalize Fortnite’s largely younger player base, the language used in the post seems all about making this a movement for Fortnite fans. This includes a bit about “[joining] the fight against @AppStore on social with #FreeFortnite,” which includes a link to the App Store’s Twitter account. Because sending thousands of angry people to harass the App Store’s social media manager is certainly one way to try and get Apple to lower its cut, right?

As for everyone who played Fortnite primarily on iOS devices before this hoopla, Epic ends the post with a suggestion of all the other places the battle royale game is playable, and says you should just get it there. Given that the game is free-to-play, this could read worse, but in this situation all it will cost anyone is some time to transfer their progress over. Now if only they didn’t end this list of suggestions by reminding everyone to @ the App Store’s social media accounts.

In other news:

An admittedly significant part of me is less concerned about how Epic uses its platform in cringe-worthy ways if the end result will help smaller developers get more out of their games and apps being on the App Store. However, Epic is speaking the language of Fortnite’s fan base by making this lawsuit an integral part of the Fortnite experience in the moment, and much of that fan base is made up of children who shouldn’t have to feel like it’s their duty to fight for a billion-dollar corporation. And ultimately, the memeification of the lawsuit makes the entire thing feel like a marketing tactic, rather than anything earnest. Do I think Epic is really that hurt my a 30% cut being taken from every Fortnite microtransaction? Not really. But I do know that even the smallest of reductions to Apple’s cut could help a lot of smaller developers who could use the extra money. So if anyone at Epic is thinking about them, I hope they’ll start thinking about the optics of moves like this soon.