Tim Sweeney's Stance on 'Open' Platforms is Both Inconsistent and Irresponsible

kubev

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Oct 25, 2017
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NOTE: This isn't a "Why won't Epic release Fortnite on the Windows Store?" thread. It's a thread about openness at the expense of security, especially given Epic's approach to releasing Fortnite on Android. Read the entire OP.

Google's recent disclosure of a vulnerability in Fortnite's installer on Android, combined with Tim Sweeney's response (not to mention his track record on open platforms), has gotten me to thinking about how potentially dangerous Tim's stance on 'open' platforms is. I want to start by saying that there's nothing wrong with releasing games on open platforms, but giving people the choice to install content from closed platforms is still really important.

Anyway, onto the discussion...

Tim's totally fine with releasing Fortnite on Windows, but not via the Windows Store. It's no huge secret that Tim hates the Windows Store and everything it stands for, but releasing Fortnite via the Windows Store wouldn't keep Epic from continuing to support its existing Windows installer, launcher and games. While it's okay to support open platforms, there's something to be said for giving people who don't necessarily otherwise need access to those open platforms the choice to install content from a centralized, secure location. And please, spare me the whole "But the Windows Store is garbage!" argument; it works fine for a lot of people, myself included, and the fact that it doesn't work for you doesn't mean that other people shouldn't get to use it.

Tim hates the Windows Store, so surely that'd mean no iOS release of Fortnite, right? Of course not, because Tim likes money, and he'll set aside any reservations he has against a closed platform when he has no other means of reaching that platform. I mean, it's not like it'd make sense for Tim to uphold his strict standards and just, I dunno...release the game first on Android, the main competitor to iOS that happens to be a HELL OF A LOT MORE OPEN. Anyway, the Android release of Fortnite is where things get even more interested.

Tim's totally fine with releasing Fortnite on Android, but not via the Google Play Store. I'll give Tim some credit here because he at least showed his true colors and stated the fact that he didn't want to share a cut of the revenue with Google as a primary motivator for bypassing the Google Play Store. Of course, he included his usual spiel about open platforms and whatnot, despite securing a timed exclusivity agreement with Samsung and even going so far as to set restrictions on which devices could run the game. Thankfully, a hacker removed said limitations and offered a separate installer for download for anyone who wanted to bypass Epic's restrictions. Gee, it's almost like forcing people to side-load an app while putting your own restrictions in place makes people do even shadier shit in order to install your product. See the problem yet?

Tim's oblivious to the concept of being responsible, even if it's staring him in the face. While I won't deny that Google would benefit hugely from having Fortnite on the Google Play Store, I don't think any malice was involved when Google released details of the recent vulnerability in the installer for Fortnite on Android. What Tim needs to realize is that Google didn't *have* to disclose the vulnerability at all, but it's sort of in Google's best interest to do so when some dipshit releases what'll inevitably be a huge popular side-loaded app and doesn't understand what sort of security concerns it presents. Google took the high road and disclosed the vulnerability per its usual process.

Tim's response:
Epic genuinely appreciated Google's effort to perform an in-depth security audit of Fortnite immediately following our release on Android, and share the results with Epic so we could speedily issue an update to fix the flaw they discovered.

However, it was irresponsible of Google to publicly disclose the technical details of the flaw so quickly, while many installations had not yet been updated and were still vulnerable.
Yeah, Tim, and it probably wouldn't have been a problem if you'd simply released Fortnite through the Google Play Store.

Tim's stance on openness is part of a bigger problem. I love my win32 apps, and I'm sure you love your win32 apps, as well. That doesn't mean that I get to force my preference for how to install apps in general on people who simply aren't as aware or concerned of the security risks that're out there. There's nothing wrong with giving people choice, even if that means releasing your app in a closed app store as ONE OPTION. If you take something huge like Fortnite that people are chomping at the bit to get their hands on and require that your audience compromise its security and resort to bad practices simply to preserve some of your profits, then you're being hugely irresponsible. And doing it under the guise of "being more open" just makes you a pile of garbage, especially when you've shown clear support for closed platforms in the past.

Oh, and speaking of openness, where's that Linux port of Fortnite, Tim?

tldr; Tim Sweeney is irresponsible at best and a greedy hypocrite at worst.

Thoughts?
 
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bishoptl

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Oct 26, 2017
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The Windows store isn't owed Epic's content, and while I'm genuinely happy that it works for you, there are many examples of it not working for others. Not to mention the fact that the GFWL debacle is still fresh - I have no issue with any content provider deciding which platforms to support and which to throw side-eye at.

Frankly, acting like Epic should just deal with the additional development costs associated with Windows store support is pretty high-handed, especially for an infinitesimally small percentage of the overall marketplace. If they don't *have* to support an unnecessary gatekeeper's marketplace to reach PC gamers, there's no reason to bother.
 

Dr Wily

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Oct 25, 2017
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Not releasing a game through a closed storefront on an open platform is pretty consistent, I'm not sure where you are seeing the discrepancy?
 
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kubev

kubev

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Not releasing a game through a closed storefront on an open platform is pretty consistent, I'm not sure where you are seeing the discrepancy?
You must've missed the part when Epic released Fortnite on a closed platform (iOS) prior to releasing Fortnite on a much more open platform (Android). And the part when Tim wanted things to be more open and started things off on Android with a brief exclusivity period for Samsung devices.
 

rebelcrusader

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Oct 25, 2017
1,006
As someone who likes (mostly) the windows store and has defended it here and the old place...

Tim owes the store nothing and this op is crazy

The sad part is if he changed it from windows store to steam half this forum would agree with him
 

jelly

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Oct 26, 2017
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There is no choice on iOS, PS, Xbox but there is on Windows and Android.
 

Eorl

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Oct 30, 2017
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You must've missed the part when Epic released Fortnite on a closed platform (iOS) prior to releasing Fortnite on a much more open platform (Android). And the part when Tim wanted things to be more open and started things off on Android with a brief exclusivity period for Samsung devices.
iOS has no choice of open platform, this had to be released on a closed platform. Where able to Epic have released it into open platforms.
 

LewieP

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Oct 26, 2017
7,774
I completely disagree. His position is entirely consistent.

When a platform is open and it's viable to release independently, they will do that. When a platform is closed and it's not viable to release independently, they will release it through the methods mandated by the platform.

The windows store does suck, and I'd much prefer developers focus on functioning stores, whether that's Steam or their their own implementation.
 
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kubev

kubev

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Nadella, is that you?
As someone who likes (mostly) the windows store and has defended it here and the old place...

Tim owes the store nothing and this op is crazy
This isn't a "Why isn't Fortnite on the Windows Store?" thread. This is a thread about Tim Sweeney's reckless refusal to support closed storefronts on open platforms as he abandons his ideals in pursuit of money while also introducing a lot of unsuspecting people to security issues. I want to again make it clear that I'm not saying that he should ONLY release on closed storefronts; I'm saying that it should be ONE OPTION available to uses of that platform.
 

Maneil99

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Nov 2, 2017
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Read the whole thread before replying jesus. I agree, its a joke. He whines about closed platforms yet releases on his own closed platform (Epic Launcher, IOS). He even specifically mentions its the $$$ that stops him from using the Android store.

The Windows store isn't owed Epic's content, and while I'm genuinely happy that it works for you, there are many examples of it not working for others. Not to mention the fact that the GFWL debacle is still fresh - I have no issue with any content provider deciding which platforms to support and which to throw side-eye at.

Frankly, acting like Epic should just deal with the additional development costs associated with Windows store support is pretty high-handed, especially for an infinitesimally small percentage of the overall marketplace. If they don't *have* to support an unnecessary gatekeeper's marketplace to reach PC gamers, there's no reason to bother.
OP did not once argue that. Tim Sweeney is looking out for his wallet, not gamers, he only hates closed platforms because it interferes with $$$. Thats fine, the issue is when he pretends like its for gamers and a moral reason. He doesn't shit on the windows store because it sucks, he shits on it because he doesn't want to have to pay MS. He is just lucky it does suck and is easier to shit on then something like steam.
 

TailorDKS

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Apr 18, 2018
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You cant release Fortnite on iOs without the app store.
But you can release Fortnite on Android without the app store.
--> thats the simple reason why they do this. No publisher/developer would release their games on an store, when they can do it without them. But most games arent Fortnite and can do it because they lack of popularity.

Epic wouldnt release Fortnite on the PlayStation Store if they could avoid it, but they cant. Same with Xbox, iOs, Switch and so on.

And if a company can make more money, they try to make more money - simple as that.
 

Mass_Pincup

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Oct 25, 2017
3,490
It’s pretty consistent though.

He’ll release the game on a closed platform if he has to, otherwise he won’t. Hence Fortnite being out on Xbox 1, PS4 and Switch.

The Windows Store has virtually no audience, why would he bother to release Fortnite on it when the basic idea behind it isn’t appealing to him and there’s no monetary reason for it?

-You can reach people without the Windows Store on PC
-You can reach Android users without Google Play
-You can’t reach IOS users without the App Store
-You can’t reach console gamers without their respective storefront
 

Matt

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Oct 24, 2017
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Windows is a traditionally open platform.

Android is an open platform.

iOS, consoles, etc. have always been closed platforms.

I don't see the inconsistently. Sweeney doesn't want to encourage the closing of Windows.

And, as has been said, Epic doesn't owe any platform holder a version of Fortnite.
 

OneBadMutha

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Nov 2, 2017
3,633
Epic owes Microsoft nothing and vice versa. Epic isn’t the only one with this problem. Real question is, why can’t the Windows store be open? We know that’s what PC gamers want. What’s the risk/reward of opening up the windows store? Can it ever be successful on the PC platform if it stays closed?
 

Bjones

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Oct 30, 2017
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Windows is getting worse every day. If he wants to be against a part of it that’s his prerogative and I support him.
 

low-G

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Oct 25, 2017
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Everything you just said is wrong, OP.

Public disclosure without giving time to respond is irresponsible and dangerous.

Furthermore, they have avoided releasing the game on closed platforms where they have a choice. iOS is a closed platform, Windows is not.
 

OldBritBloke

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Oct 28, 2017
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If there was ANY "open" option on iOS then they would have opted for that. Choosing the most open available option for each platform they release is on consistent, surely?
 
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kubev

kubev

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Everything you just said is wrong, OP.

Public disclosure without giving time to respond is irresponsible and dangerous.

Furthermore, they have avoided releasing the game on closed platforms where they have a choice. iOS is a closed platform, Windows is not.
Google gave Epic seven days, and Google was generous in giving Epic that long, given the popularity of the game. If Tim's logic is that Google should've held back to give people more time to update, then that's all the more reason for Epic to have released the game on the Google Play Store to ensure timely updates in most cases.
 

Dr Wily

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Oct 25, 2017
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You must've missed the part when Epic released Fortnite on a closed platform (iOS) prior to releasing Fortnite on a much more open platform (Android).
It was released on PS4 before it was released on Android too.
There's still no inconsistency.

If a platform only has a closed store, thats where you have to release it if you want to release it on that platform.
As can be seen in where Fortnite has been released.

For all your claims that this isn't a "Bawwwww why Epic no support winstore?" topic, that certainly seems to be the only thing actually bothering you "AS AN OPTION!".
 
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kubev

kubev

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For all your claims that this isn't a "Bawwwww why Epic no support winstore?" topic, that certainly seems to be the only thing actually bothering you "AS AN OPTION!".
You know, it'd be awesome if you could bring yourself to read a full paragraph. I never once tied the "ONE OPTION" thing to the Windows Store. But hey, I suppose I should think twice about mentioning the Windows Store on ResetEra and expecting most responses to not be about the Windows Store.

I'm speculating that they are going to release Fortnite for Linux when they fully implement Vulkan into Unreal Engine 4.
That could very well be the case. While I understand Epic's reasoning for not supporting Linux first from a business standpoint, I do think that the degree to which Tim is vocal about openness should influence his decisions (especially those made with Epic) more. For someone who's all about openness, he sure likes to put the open platforms after the closed ones.
 

OldBritBloke

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Oct 28, 2017
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The idea that choosing not to release your game on a particular platform makes you "irresponsible" is bananas to me. That's truly the first time I've seen that word used to describe that situation.
 

dreamcast

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Oct 27, 2017
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It's quite simple. Just release wherever you can and let the consumer choose their store option. More options are always better for the consumer.

It's quite simple. More money is made on open platform than a closed store format. So you have to do whatever you can to maximize profits so less options are better for business.
 

Dick Justice

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Oct 25, 2017
1,542
The Windows Store is fucking garbage. State of Decay 2 has some microstutter issues, and usually when this happens, I can just select the executable for a game with RTSS and cap the framerate, smoothing out the frametimes and eliminating the stutter. Not so with windows apps, which produce permission errors. The less games that support the platform, the better. And that's not even mentioning the lock down on modding opportunities. The first game, which came out on Steam, was quite open to modding. Now? Lol.
 

Deleted member 25108

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Tim Sweeney doesn't care about open platforms nor does he care about gamer choice. He cares about having the widest audience to sell his game too (or rather his IAP too) with the least amount of platform holder control.

It's getting increasingly obvious that Epic don't want to give anyone a cut, but want every platform to bend over to accomdate them.

It's fine when we are talking about got nice, because it's somewhat earnt it's place as the biggest game in the world. It's what comes next that's the issue.
 

Lord of Ostia

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I fail to see how this is inconsistent. If a platform is entirely closed, Epic clearly prefers to serve that market over not serving it at all. If there is an open option available on a more open platform, then they will use that. It's their software, they can choose to distribute it however they want.
 

Dr Wily

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Oct 25, 2017
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You know, it'd be awesome if you could bring yourself to read a full paragraph. I never once tied the "ONE OPTION" thing to the Windows Store. But hey, I suppose I should think twice about mentioning the Windows Store on ResetEra and expecting most responses to not be about the Windows Store.
I'm reading everything you write, you're just making leaps that you are not backing up.
My assumption that your annoyance that Fortnite isn't on the W10 storefront is your prime motivator for this topic is how you keep declaring how you're not just mad about the Windows Store.
 
Nov 8, 2017
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He's hypocritical in the sense that he stays silent regarding the closed platform maintained by his own company and releasing on all sorts of closed platforms routinely. But it would be both foolish and irresponsible wrt his position as CEO to publicly shit on his own company. He should probably just stop speaking publicly about these sorts of things since it's obvious that it's just hot air.
 

Matt

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Google gave Epic seven days, and Google was generous in giving Epic that long, given the popularity of the game. If Tim's logic is that Google should've held back to give people more time to update, then that's all the more reason for Epic to have released the game on the Google Play Store to ensure timely updates in most cases.
Google was very happy to release the info on the bug as fast as they did, and it was a smaller timeframe than would normally be expected.

Releasing the info on the bug without more time for the fix to propagate hurts users, period.
 

chrominance

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Oct 25, 2017
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Epic should rightfully take heat for the vulnerability in their launcher.

It does not automatically follow that they are irresponsible for not putting their stuff on Google Play to avoid this.
 
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kubev

kubev

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I'm reading everything you write, you're just making leaps that you are not backing up.
My assumption that your annoyance that Fortnite isn't on the W10 storefront is your prime motivator for this topic is how you keep declaring how you're not just mad about the Windows Store.
Yeah, I know. I'm so caught up on the Windows Store thing that this was the first sentence when I originally posted the thread:
Google's recent disclosure of a vulnerability in Fortnite's installer on Android, combined with Tim Sweeney's response (not to mention his track record on open platforms), has gotten me to thinking about how potentially dangerous Tim's stance on 'open' platforms is.
I mentioned the Windows Store as my first point of discussion because my first recollection of Tim discussion openness was in opposition to the Windows Store. You'll notice that each of the bold points appear in chronological order. I made no insinuation that what appeared first was most important, and I clearly lead from one point to another in the text that follows each bold point.

Epic should rightfully take heat for the vulnerability in their launcher.

It does not automatically follow that they are irresponsible for not putting their stuff on Google Play to avoid this.
Normally, I'd agree with you, but Epic's decision to bypass the Google Play Store and instead educate users on side-loading apps, combined with Epic's decision to restrict installation to certain devices initially to the point that anyone who wanted to play on an "unsupported" device would just side-load a hacked version of the .apk file, strikes me as irresponsible in this case.
 

Dr Wily

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Oct 25, 2017
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I mentioned the Windows Store as my first point of discussion because my first recollection of Tim discussion openness was in opposition to the Windows Store.
Saying that the Windows Store is a blatant attempt to close an open platform and that that is a bad thing is not a Richard Stallmanesque manifesto that everything must be open, and there has never been any indication in word or action by Tim Sweeney or Epic that they are fighting for a FLOSS / Libre software philosophy.

Your perceived inconsistensies are the results of you not understanding the stance involved.
 

tuxfool

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Oct 25, 2017
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Windows is a traditionally open platform.

Android is an open platform.

iOS, consoles, etc. have always been closed platforms.

I don't see the inconsistently. Sweeney doesn't want to encourage the closing of Windows.

And, as has been said, Epic doesn't owe any platform holder a version of Fortnite.
While this is well and good, by supporting the closed platforms and bypassing the revenue streams on open platforms, he is effectively saying to the open platforms "go ahead and lock stuff down, my moral stances don't matter at all".

I very much appreciate him taking the open stance. But his stated reason reeks of hypocrisy

I'll also go ahead an echo the OP, "where is the Linux client?", The most open platform of all.
He's hypocritical in the sense that he stays silent regarding the closed platform maintained by his own company and releasing on all sorts of closed platforms routinely. But it would be both foolish and irresponsible wrt his position as CEO to publicly shit on his own company. He should probably just stop speaking publicly about these sorts of things since it's obvious that it's just hot air.
Yeah, if he seeks to defend his stances by subjecting them to such granular conditions, are they really stances worth lauding? Or are they just useful contrivances? Either you stand for something or you don't. There is no shame in saying "I just want to maximise my revenue". But he can't have his cake and eat it.
 
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Matt

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Oct 24, 2017
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While this is well and good, by supporting the closed platforms and bypassing the revenue streams on open platforms, he is effectively saying to the open platforms "go ahead and lock stuff down, my moral stances don't matter at all".

I very much appreciate him taking the open stance. But his stated reason reeks of hypocrisy

I'll also go ahead an echo the OP, "where is the Linux client?", The most open platform of all
His "moral" (not that moral is the right term) stance doesn't really matter at all when the choice is "succeed or fail." Sweeney is the CEO of a company with 700+ employees, he can't ignore PlayStation, Xbox, and iOS. That would be incredibly irresponsible.

In no way does that make his desire for Windows to remain an open platform hypocritical.

As for Linux, again, Sweeney or Epic doesn't owe any platform a version of their game. The Linux-only game market is incredibly small, therefore it is not a priority.
 

chrominance

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Oct 25, 2017
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Normally, I'd agree with you, but Epic's decision to bypass the Google Play Store and instead educate users on side-loading apps, combined with Epic's decision to restrict installation to certain devices initially to the point that anyone who wanted to play on an "unsupported" device would just side-load a hacked version of the .apk file, strikes me as irresponsible in this case.
Amazon also educates its users on how to side-load apps because they have their own app store that Google won't allow on its store. Humble Bundle also does this. Are they irresponsible for doing so?

The Samsung exclusivity I won't defend, I don't like these kinds of exclusivity deals in general. But the mere act of teaching people how to sideload and asking them to do so in order to use your app does not strike me as a problem in and of itself. There are risks, just like with any open platform. The only concession I'd make here is that maybe people don't fully understand the risks and aren't necessarily in a good position to judge whether Epic's launcher is okay to use or not. Again, a lot of that responsibility rests on Epic to make sure their software is secure. But requiring people to go through the Google Play walled garden just to protect against this is essentially the same as asking Android to be a closed platform. It's not happening and it shouldn't happen.
 

tuxfool

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His "moral" (not that moral is the right term) stance doesn't really matter at all when the choice is "succeed or fail." Sweeney is the CEO of a company with 700+ employees, he can't ignore PlayStation, Xbox, and iOS. That would be incredibly irresponsible.

In no way does that make his desire for Windows to remain an open platform hypocritical.

As for Linux, again, Sweeney or Epic doesn't owe any platform a version of their game. The Linux-only game market is incredibly small, therefore it is not a priority.
Of course he can't, he has responsibilities. Indeed the choice is to succeed or fail on the terms given to him, ultimately he is the CEO and he can have his opinions, however clearly his money isn't where his mouth is.
 
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kubev

kubev

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Amazon also educates its users on how to side-load apps because they have their own app store that Google won't allow on its store. Humble Bundle also does this. Are they irresponsible for doing so?
Without seeing any hard numbers as to how many Android users install Amazon's app store, it's hard for me to compare the two. I'm not against side-loading itself. My problem here is that 1) Fortnite is ridiculously popular, 2) Epic pushed people to side-load it, and 3) Epic restricted installation to certain devices, prompting someone to release a hacked .apk without said restrictions that could also be side-loaded, setting a dangerous precedent during what could be many people's first exposure to side-loading.

Interesting, 90 days is quite generous. We usually have to fix Bug Bounties within 30 days before public release.
Yeah, I mean, in Google's defense, seven days is plenty if you have a reliable means of pushing updates to users (e.g. the Google Play Store); I can't speak for what Epic is using.
 

tuxfool

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If open platforms were so important, then he wouldn't be kowtowing to those that are closed. All that this is doing is validating the closing down of platforms. You'll also hear him speak plenty of keeping platforms open, but there is nary a criticism of the majority of platforms being closed, presumably due to the realpolitik of Epics partnerships with the companies running closed platforms.

His responsibilities put his stance in direct conflict with the reality.
 

Matt

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Oct 24, 2017
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If open platforms were so important, then he wouldn't be kowtowing to those that are closed. All that this is doing is validating the closing down of platforms.

His responsibilities put his stance in direct conflict.
He can't prevent the popularity of platforms like PS4, Xbox, or iOS. Simply ignoring them wouldn't do anything the help the cause of open platforms, and would materially hurt his company and employees.

However, supporting the closing of Windows would both hurt Epic, and (at least in his eyes) hurt users. Plus the fact that not supporting the Windows Store has only a positive financial upside, that's an obvious and clear choice.

As for Android, I'm not really a fan of Epic's choice here, but Google was not the "good guys" in this situation.
 
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kubev

kubev

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As for Android, I'm not really a fan of Epic's choice here, but Google was not the "good guys" in this situation.
How was Google the "bad guy" in this case, then? For wanting a cut of something that would've been on the Play Store? Or for disclosing a vulnerability with a game that was being rampantly side-loaded seven days after said vulnerability was patched? Google was right to take responsibility for something that could've impacted the security of its platform. I'm not gonna say that Epic or Google was "bad" in this case, but Epic must be pretty naive to have gone about this without having a reliable means of pushing out a patch within a week of release.
 

Matt

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Oct 24, 2017
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How was Google the "bad guy" in this case, then? For wanting a cut of something that would've been on the Play Store? Or for disclosing a vulnerability with a game that was being rampantly side-loaded seven days after said vulnerability was patched? I'm not gonna say that Epic or Google was "bad" in this case, but Epic must be pretty naive to have gone about this without having a reliable means of pushing out a patch within a week of release.
Google was giddy to have discovered the exploit, and disclosed it after 7 days because it served their own interests. It was not for the benefit of users.