Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney says the world needs one unified game store, and that Epic is working with developers and service providers to help make it happen.
"What the world really needs now is a single store that works with all platforms," Sweeney said in an interview with Bloomberg. "Right now software ownership is fragmented between the iOS App Store, the Android Google Play marketplace, different stores on Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo Switch, and then Microsoft Store and the Mac App Store."
Epic's plan to clean up that confusion is to come up with a system enabling users "to buy software in one place, knowing that they'd have it on all devices and all platforms." How it will go about bringing together that disparate assemblage of technologies and competing platforms is an unaddressed question, but it's reasonable to guess that it has something to do with the metaverse, the ill-defined concept of online worlds that we're pretty sure is a bad idea, although Sweeney himself is a dedicated (and legally acknowledged) adherent.
Sweeney has been publicly advocating for more open online storefronts since mid-2020, when Epic sued Apple over "monopolistic practices" on the App Store. But speaking at the Global Conference for Mobile Application Ecosystem Fairness in South Korea, he insisted that there are more important reasons to force online storefront openness than just money.
"Apple locks a billion users into one store and payment processor," Sweeney said. "Now Apple complies with oppressive foreign laws, which surveil users and deprive them of political rights. But Apple is ignoring laws passed by Korea’s democracy. Apple must be stopped."
South Korea recently passed a law mandating alternative payment options on major digital platforms including the App Store, preventing platform holders from forcing developers to use their built-in payment systems. According to the Korea Herald, Google has come into compliance with the new law but Apple has not yet indicated if, or even how, it intends to.
"I’m very proud to stand up against these monopolies with you," Sweeney said. "I’m proud to stand with you and say I’m a Korean."
This isn't the first time Sweeney has declared his affinity with Korea: He made a similar statement in August, shortly after the Korean court ruling on digital storefronts.
As President Kennedy said at the Berlin Wall in 1963, today all developers around the world can be proud to say: I am a Korean! pic.twitter.com/XeVdB1W1WlAugust 31, 2021
Nor is it his first sweeping declaration about the cultural and moral significance of Epic's dispute with Apple and Google. In November 2020 he was criticized for comparing Epic's rejection of their terms of service with historical fights for civil rights. "There were actual laws on the books, and the laws were wrong," he said. "And people disobeyed them, and it was not wrong to disobey them because to go along with them would be collusion to make them status quo."
A US court also ruled in September that an Apple policy preventing apps from advertising their own payment systems is anticompetitive and would have to be changed. Apple appealed that ruling but was not granted a stay, meaning that the court-ordered policy change must go into effect in December.