A couple of weeks before the process between Epic and Apple began, Epic added the Itch.io app to the Epic Games Store. It seemed like a move to show how complete and happy Epic was to host another storefront on their store, but now Apple has used this as ammunition against them. Last Friday, on the fifth day of the trial, Apple made it sound like the excellent indie store was an evil demon app that sells games “so offensive” that they couldn’t possibly speak about them in court.
Epic added the Itch app to its store in April (along with a handful of other non-game apps like Spotify and internet browser Brave). Epic does not review the games published on Itch.io as it is a third party app. As Epic mentioned during the test, Itch has its own moderation systems. That didn’t seem to stop Apple from pointing out that it was Epic’s fault that users could access “offensive and sexualized apps”.
Here is an artist rendering of the court moment:
The main reason Apple included Itch in the trial now is because it is exactly at the core of what their big beef with Epic is about, which is: Apple won’t host any other app stores on its App Store. If they allow a third party app on their platform, who should say what kind of degeneracy they would allow on their dear iPhones? That said, if Apple’s concerns are purely pornographic, I have bad news for them about all of the internet browsers their business offers.
You can read the full transcript from Apple’s attorney grilling the Epic Games Store general manager Steven Allison at the end The edge. It’s both fun and painfully non-contact. Some of my favorite quotes from Apple’s lawyer are:
- “The description of [Sisterly Lust] contains a list of fetishes that contain many words that are inappropriate for us to speak in federal courts. “
- “There are a lot of games on Itch.io, I won’t even read the names out loud, but they are both offensive and sexualized.”
- “I was just wondering, sir, if you fully endorse the offensive and sexualized content that is available there when people go to the Epic Games Store and download Itch.io.”
As amusing (and worrying) as the statements are, the judge also asked some questions at the end. They were mostly such that the judge could get an idea of how to download these “obnoxious” apps, but calling up Itch in this context just feels like a minor slap from Apple, let alone the one-sidedness. In a courtroom full of people who don’t know anything about Itch.io other than what they have just been told, this simplifies a platform that plays an important role in a broader industry, massively.
In case you’re just as unfamiliar with Itch.io, it’s a great storefront for indie developers that can quickly set up pages to sell their games. Developers can set prices or let players pay for what they want. Itch was also responsible for putting the fantastic together Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality last summerthat ended raise over $ 8 million for organizations fighting against racial injustice in America. Itch also has a lot of free games and there are thousands of good things. Alice Bee recently did a roundup of brilliantly named pico-8 games You can resort to itching.
Itch also has a lot of adult games. And that’s not a bad thing. Itch has a large community of graphic novel artists who choose to put their NSFW content there because The rules of Itch are more transparent and creator-friendly than other websites. It’s not like this stuff is blasted all over the home page, either. The cheekier stuff is behind filters so you don’t have to see it if you don’t want to.
Despite Apple asking about these “unspeakable” games, Allison stood up for Itch, saying, “It’s an incredible community for developers that we fully support.”
Itch.io seems to take it all pretty well too. “Folks, Apple’s lawyers just called. They said we have to turn off ALL the games.” they tweeted. “Games are now ILLEGAL.”
Latest from the itchio Press Room: We are renaming our filter “Sensitive Content” to “Unspeakable Games”.
– itch.io (@itchio) May 7, 2021
The Epic vs Apple trial is entering its second week, so god knows what we’ll hear next. Court documents have already leaked information about Walmart’s foray into cloud gamingas well as details about how Epic spend their money. Last week, Epic and Apple have tried to define what a game is. It’s gonna be a long time folks.
If you are interested in getting the hang of it all, I recommend checking out The Verge Reporter Adi Robertson’s big twitter thread the live reporting.