Hello and welcome to Get Your Game On! My name is Zainabb and trying to de-tangle the Epic vs Apple trial has been a struggle. Listen, life may be hard right now but at least we got a whole bunch of new memes. Here’s what games have been like this week.

The Epic vs Apple Trial Has Begun and It’s a Whole Mess

This week, the Epic vs Apple trial began and where to even start with this? Nobody seems to understand confidentiality, resulting in third-party information being shared publicly, while some of the lawyers involved don’t seem to understand games, and there’ve been some concerning remarks about queer and smutty games that leans into moral panic territory.

A major issue that’s arisen during the trial, and which makes it hard to follow what’s been going on, is that nobody seemed to consider confidentiality ahead of time. Epic and Apple each have business with a number of third parties, such as games companies and studios, who obviously don’t want certain information being released publicly during the trial, like trade secrets and project plans.

Many of the documents being used in the trial were initially placed in a public folder without being checked for confidentiality, resulting in private information being widely shared. Now, third parties are making last-minute requests for redaction and confidentiality, slowing down proceedings—which are already hectic because the public, including enthusiastic Fortnite players, are able to watch the trial online and were initially able to call in and heckle the court.

From the trial and the documents exhibited, we’ve learned that Xbox makes a loss on the sale of its consoles; Epic’s Games Store paid $11.6 million between December 2018 and September 2019 for its free games; Apple tried to prevent Netflix from dropping in-app purchases on the iOS Store back in 2018; and Epic pays royalties to PlayStation for Fortnite cross-play.

We’ve also learned that some of the lawyers involved in the trial don’t seem to understand games very well. Although a comprehensive knowledge of how the games industry works should be a prerequisite for this specific trial, not understanding games themselves wouldn’t normally be an issue, except the lawyers keep trying to use them to make their arguments.

Worse, one of the arguments made against Epic focuses on some of the content on itch.io, the indie games platform that Epic recently added as an app to their Games Store. Pornographic, sexual, and queer content on itch.io has been described as “so offensive we cannot speak about [it]” during the trial.

This line of questioning aims to show that Epic, who claim to not permit sexual content on their Games Store, is providing access via the itch.io app to, among other things, sexual content. The comments made about sexual content on itch.io are concerning: similar commentary about other sites has frequently preceded increased restrictions on those sites and, importantly, the indie creators who rely on the platform to sell and market their work.

We’ve seen limits placed on social media platforms like Tumblr and payment platforms like PayPal, which prevent sex workers and artists from sharing their work and earning money safely and freely. The itch.io community have been sharing their favourite “unspeakable” games on social media as an act of support.

The trial will continue over the next couple of weeks.

Sony and Valve Also Face Lawsuits

The Epic vs Apple lawsuit is not the only one in games right now, as both Sony and Valve have recently been sued.

Gamers have sued Sony for restricting sales of PlayStation games to the PlayStation Store, claiming that Sony is operating an unlawful monopoly by doing so. The lawsuit cites Sony’s removal of download codes from other stores, like Amazon and Best Buy, arguing that they are able to charge higher prices for PlayStation games as a result. Sony hasn’t yet commented publicly on the lawsuit.

Meanwhile, the Valve suit by Wolfire Games CEO David Rosen (and two gamers) continues. The lawsuit claims that Steam’s dominance on the PC market forces game developers to increase their prices on Steam to cover Valve’s 30% commission fee. The lawsuit also claims that developers cannot list their games for lower prices on other platforms without risking their game being removed from Steam.

In other news…

The Witcher 3 director Konrad Tomaszkiewicz has resigned following allegations that he was bullying colleagues. An internal investigation at CD Projekt cleared Tomaszkiewicz, but his resignation message included an apology and stated that “a lot of people are feeling fear, stress or discomfort when working with me.” Feeling afraid of or stressed when working with someone, especially someone in a position of power over you, fits most definitions of workplace bullying. While Tomaszkiewicz acknowledged that he must “continue working on myself,” his resignation statement raises questions about CD Projekt’s investigation and why these acknowledgments didn’t occur at the time the allegations were brought forward.

Humble Bundle has walked back their decision to remove sliders, which customers can use to control what portion of their purchase goes to game developers, charities, and Humble Bundle itself. In response to criticism, Humble Bundle will reinstate the sliders but have stated they will continue to “[explore] different approaches to the sliders and how splits work”.

Ryu ga Gotoku Studios have confirmed that the Yakuza series will be a turn-based RPG moving forward, following the success of Yakuza: Like a Dragon. However, the recently announced Lost Judgment will use the action brawler combat system from the earlier Yakuza games.

VP and Head of Product at Stadia John Justice has left Google. Six other members of Stadia staff have also left to join Haven Studios, a studio founded by former Stadia VP Jade Raymond. Meanwhile, at Giant Bomb, founding members Alex Navarro, Brad Shoemaker, and Vinny Caravella have confirmed their departures. There’s speculation that their departure is linked to the sale of Giant Bomb at the end of last year.

Shirley Curry features as an NPC follower in a new PC and Xbox mod for Skyrim. The beloved gaming grandma has provided her likeness and her voice for the character, who will support your player character as you travel around the game.

Discord is celebrating its sixth birthday by running a livestream on Thursday 13th May. The program is also trialing a new gaming feature, which they’re launching with poker. Players need to be over 18 to join a game while, weirdly, teenagers under 18 are still invited but can only watch.