Fortnite developer brings on its first lobbyists
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.
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.