Epic Games launches Apple-mocking #FreetheFortnite Tournament

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Epic Games launching Apple mocking #FreetheFortnite Tournament.
Image: Epic Games

Epic Games has lived up to its name with its latest salvo against Apple and its iOS billing policy. The studio will launch a new tournament on August 23 called #FreetheFortnite Cup designed to troll the iPhone manufacturer. Players can compete to win prizes, including video game hardware, themed merchandise, and a new skin that appears to mock Apple’s current CEO.

Details on Epic’s New Tournament

Epic will hold its #FreetheFortnite Cup competition just days after engaging America’s first $2 trillion company in a major court battle. The contest will run for four hours and pit players against each other in a series of singles matches. The developer is offering a host of cool prizes to participants in the latest round of its anti-Apple crusade.

Players scoring at least 10 points will receive an outfit called “Tart Tycoon,” which is modeled after the antagonist in Epic’s “Nineteen-Eighty Fortnite” ad. The studio left no doubt as to the target of its mockery as the character’s head looks like the Apple logo, and it wears sunglasses similar to those favored by the firm’s chief executive, Tim Cook.

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Users ranking as the world’s 20,000 highest scorers will receive a “Free Fortnite” cap that parodies Apple’s “Think Different” campaign. The studio is also awarding new Alienware gaming laptops, Nintendo Switches, OnePlus 8s, PlayStation 4 Pros, Samsung Galaxy S7 Tabs, and Xbox One Xs to the top 1,200 tournament participants.

What’s the Point of All This?

Epic is using its proven marketing strategy to exert pressure on Apple to meet its demands.

When the developer wants to tell the world something, it has an established method of doing so. The company uses its substantial web presence and polished video production resources to capture consumer attention on a global scale. Crucially, the firm makes its big announcements right before it launches an event or limited-time updates. The studio’s heavily stylized, surprise tactics proved successful in publicizing its virtual Travis Scott concert and multimedia promotional tie-ins.

Epic kicked off its crusade by launching an update letting users bypass the App Store when making in-game purchases. The studio deployed the controversial update because it objects to the Big Tech firm’s 30 percent per transaction fee. In response, Apple removed “Fortnite” from its global marketplace, and Epic pushed back with a video and a lawsuit.

The iPhone maker escalated things by threatening to pull the studio’s ecosystem access, which prompted the developer to file an injunction.

Thus far, Epic’s tactics have garnered lots of press attention and likely gave Apple’s public relations team serious heartburn. More importantly, the studio’s defiance of the iPhone maker’s policies might have sparked a wider rebellion. Digital Content Next, a trade group representing the New York Times and Vox Media, sent Cook an open letter asking for better financial terms on subscriptions made through its platform.

In addition, Apple is dealing with antitrust scrutiny from European and United States officials because of its App Store policies. Facing attacks on several fronts, the Silicon Valley giant might decide to make a rare compromise.

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