Tom Warren @tomwarren , 28 April 2021, TheVerge
Epic Games is holding back Fortnite from being available on Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming (xCloud) service, according to a new deposition made public as part of the Epic case against Apple. The Fortnite developer views Microsoft’s xCloud service as competition to its PC offerings, and the company is deliberately not offering Fortnite on xCloud as a result.
Joe Kreiner, Epic’s vice president of business development, was questioned over why Fortnite isn’t available on xCloud, and confirmed it was a deliberate choice. “We viewed Microsoft’s efforts with xCloud to be competitive with our PC offerings,” says Kreiner in the deposition. The court document makes it appear like Kreiner may go on to explain why, but the next part of the questioning has been redacted.
Fortnite is a free-to-play game on Xbox, and the only way to currently access the game on an iPhone is through Nvidia’s GeForce Now cloud gaming service. Epic Games partnered with Nvidia last year to launch Fortnite on GeForce Now and has helped Nvidia offer a number of other games from its PC game store on the Nvidia cloud gaming service, where all of the revenue from the original game’s purchase or any in-app purchases goes back to Epic rather than Nvidia. As far as Epic is concerned, the game is simply running on a PC.
That is likely a key reason why Epic has favored Nvidia over Microsoft to host Fortnite in the cloud. Microsoft doesn’t currently allow rival game stores on Xbox or xCloud in any form, and all transactions go through Microsoft there. In fact, Kreiner even admits that Epic Games hasn’t tried to negotiate with Microsoft over the requirement to have to use the Xbox maker’s store and commerce engine.
Epic’s entire case against Apple is centered on the App Store, and the company believes Apple should allow rival app stores on iOS devices or rival payment processing platforms. Epic is trying to fight Apple’s App Store policies, a 30 percent (15 percent for some) cut for subscriptions and in-app purchases, and the removal of Fortnite from the App Store. Kreiner’s questioning is part of this ongoing lawsuit, and it’s a huge case that’s already shining a light on the practices throughout the mobile and game industry that result in consumers being able to access games and apps across devices beyond just the iPhone.