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An 11-year-old gamer plays Fortnite in South Pasadena, California, last April. Photo: Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

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.

Go deeper

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated Jan 27, 2021 - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.

NASA estimates Tonga volcano exploded with force of 5-6 megatons

A satellite image of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano on Dec. 24, before the eruption. Photo: Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies

NASA scientists estimate the power of Tonga's volcanic eruption over the weekend to have been 5-6 Megatons of TNT equivalent.

Threat level: Saturday's eruption of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Haʻapai volcano and subsequent tsunami killed at least three people. Scientists warn an "ash-seawater cocktail" poses a potentially toxic health threat, and drinking water could be contaminated.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

New York AG alleges "significant evidence" of Trump Organization fraud

Combination images of former President Trump and New York State Attorney General Letitia James. Photo: Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images; Scott Heins/Getty Images

New York's attorney general filed a motion Tuesday seeking to compel former President Trump and his two elder children to appear for sworn testimony in her office's civil investigation into the Trump Organization's financial dealings.

Why it matters: Attorney General Letitia James revealed new details in the court filing and a statement on her office's investigation into the Trump Organization's business practices, including a preliminary finding alleging the company used "fraudulent and misleading asset valuations to obtain economic benefits."