Entrepreneurship and Innovation

Apple and EPIC Games are Destroying their Own Ecosystem

The dispute between the two internet giants shows why business ecosystems are important and why they are so fragile.

Dries Faems - January 25, 2021


Over the years, Apple and the video game provider EPIC Games have created their own business ecosystem to the immense benefit of both companies. EPIC Games uses the Apple platform to offer its popular strategy game Fortnite to Apple users and thus achieves an enormous reach. Apple, in turn, handles the purchases of the players via its payment system and receives an attractive commission. But now the ecosystem seems to be in danger.


Every day, millions of teenagers engage in strategic battles in the popular game Fortnite, which is owned by the company EPIC Games. Today, this game has become the center stage of another kind of battle between two giants: EPICGames and Apple.

Recently, EPIC Games launched an alternative mobilepayment system. It allows Fortnite players to buy Fortnite tools at a discount without using the Apple payment system. In this way, however, Apple no longer receives its 30% commission on Fortnite purchases from users that play Fortnite on the Apple mobile platform. As a reaction, Apple decided to remove Fortnite from its mobile store, implying that new users can no longer download the popular game via the Apple platform. This has resulted in a public fight, where EPIC Games have publicly accused Apple of acting as a corporate mogul, launching an online parody of Apple’s famous 1984 commercial.

Further reading
  • Read the full article on why this fight illustrates the inherent vulnerability of ecosystems on Professor Dries Faems’ blog WHU Innovation Ecosystem Hub!

Professor Dr. Dries Faems

Dries Faems holds the Chair of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Technological Transformation at WHU – Otto Beisheim School of Management. He is an expert on the topic of collaboration for innovation. In his teaching and research, he focuses on phenomena such as R&D alliances, collaboration for digital transformation, and innovation ecosystems. Professor Faems also is the coordinator of the WHU Innovation Ecosystem Hub, which aims to connect academics and practitioners on the topic of collaboration for innovation.

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