I agree with you that game developers have always had to pay to be "licensed" on major platforms like Nintendo's 8-bit NES. Unlike computer software, where you could just release a game to be played on any home computer as long as you had a distribution method (mail-order, shareware, BBS, CompUSA/Babbages, etc). I want to say that I've read that current platforms like the Playstation and XBOX platforms also take 30% from digital download sales.
This is Epic's argument:
Epic argued that Apple is a monopolist in two respects: its control of app distribution on the App Store and its requirement that users pay through its payment processing system.
And Epic argues that because Apple has monopoly power, antitrust laws say Apple can’t use that power to shut competition out of the market for either the app store or the payment system. Epic does, however, acknowledge that Apple created value with the App Store.
“To be clear, Epic does not seek to force Apple to provide distribution and processing services for free, nor does Epic seek to enjoy Apple’s services without paying for them. What Epic wants is the freedom not to use Apple’s App Store or IAP (in-app purchase), and instead to use and offer competing service,” Epic said.
Apple has asserted its store isn’t a separate product, but Epic argues app distribution is an “aftermarket” derived from the primary market of the smartphone platform. Epic says the courts should view the relevant antitrust market as the aftermarket, which has a unique brand and a unique market and is not part of a larger single product. Epic isn’t challenging Apple’s rights on the smartphone platform, only in the aftermarket, where Epic alleges Apple is behaving in a monopolistic manner. It argues that Apple cuts off choices (such as downloading apps from websites) that are available to consumers in other markets.
If I read that correctly, Epic is asserting that their mobile phone games are more similar to PC software (discovery, distribution, and payments) than closed-systems like the Playstation and Nintendo networks where you rely on the existing infrastructure.
If my explanation is not clear enough, breaking it down in bullet points:
1) Epic doesn't need the Apple Store to promote Fortnight or to host their game for download. Everyone knows about Fortnight, and Epic could easily host the software binaries for the game on their own servers.
2) Epic doesn't need the Apple Store to handle payments because they have already built their own payment infrastructure and have even built their own "app store" where game developers can sell their games on the Epic platform if they want to.
Imagine if every software application on your Windows or Mac computer had to be downloaded and purchased through a Windows or Apple "App Store" instead of how it's been handled for the past 40+ years of personal computing? Don't get me wrong, both Apple and Microsoft are attempting to do this right now with their respective stores, but fortunately they haven't locked users out of installing apps downloaded through any non-Microsoft/Apple website on the internet... AT LEAST THEY HAVEN'T YET!
Quoted from rai:
I don’t think you are correct about paying for stuff or donating to Pinside. Apple doesn’t take 30% cut for that.
30% commission for "in-app purchases" is right in the Apple App Store terms and conditions: https://www.apple.com/ios/app-store/principles-practices/#:~:text=Developers%20earn%2070%25%20of%20sales,Apple%20collects%20a%2030%25%20commission.
Now if Pinside had an app, they could always solicit "payments" directly through their website (like Netflix and other selected companies are allowed to do), but if Apple noticed that and decided to take action, they could ban the Pinside app from their App Store.
Furthermore: Imagine if Google/Apple required every single donation (or credit card payment) made by using their web browser (Chrome/Safari) to go through the respective app store instead of using whichever payment processing service Robin decided to use? I wonder how far away from that we are?
Don't get me wrong, I have no problem with Google/Apple/Microsoft providing those services (app/game discovery, distribution, payments), but they shouldn't be allowed to LOCK OUT other options that already exist and have existed for the last 40+ years of personal computing.