The company behind the wildly popular video game franchise Fortnite, which is suing Apple over alleged anti-competitive practices, hired its first lobbyists this month to “monitor” antitrust issues in Washington.
Why it matters: Epic Games’ case against Apple has potentially huge legal and financial stakes. The company’s decision to enlist K Street veterans with connections on both sides of the aisle indicates it is tuning into D.C., where both parties have railed against anti-competitive practices in the tech industry.
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What’s new: Lobbying disclosure records filed Wednesday show Epic has brought on two firms, each geared toward one side of the political aisle.
Epic retained Subject Matter and three of its lobbyists, including co-founder Steve Elmendorf, a high-dollar Democratic fundraiser.
Also working with Epic is the Gibson Group and its eponymous principal, Joseph Gibson. He formerly served as the top attorney for Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee.
Both firms said in registration filings they would “monitor antitrust issues in the technology industry” on Epic’s behalf.
Background: Those issues are at the center of Epic’s high-stakes legal fight with Apple.
The gaming company accuses Apple of charging exorbitant fees for developers that are forced to sell their games through its app store.
Apple booted Fortnite from the App Store last year, saying Epic attempted to circumvent its fee structure.
Epic “is simply seeking fair access and competition that will benefit all consumers,” Tera Randell, the company’s vice president of communications, told AppleInsider last week.
Between the lines: Epic’s decision to enlist lobbyists underscores the cross-partisan appeal of antitrust fights in Washington.
Republicans have railed against tech companies like Twitter and Facebook, claiming they use monopoly power to silence prominent conservatives.
President Biden is considering installing a White House antitrust “czar” to coordinate efforts to take on anti-competitive business practices.
The bottom line: Video games don’t always get the attention that other popular media forms do. But Fortnite alone brought in $1.8 billion in revenue for Epic in 2019.
Its legal battle with Apple — the world’s most valuable company — could have far-reaching consequences for the industry.
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