Tim Sweeney calls out poor tech and gaming industry practices at DICE 2020 keynote

Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney kicked off DICE 2020 with a whole bunch of real talk for the gaming and tech industries.

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Tim Sweeney took the DICE 2020 stage to kickoff today’s talks with a very special keynote.  It started off nice enough with Tim highlighting the massive successes of Fortnite. The CEO of Epic Games touted their over 300 million users across iOS, Android, PC, Xbox One, PS4, and Switch. He then spent the rest of the time airing grievances about how the gaming industry operates today. “What do we want to be when we grow up?” asked Sweeney to room full of video game industry veterans.

Tim highlighted several problems in the tech and gaming industries that he would like to see addressed in 2020. “There is an opportunity for this decade to be another lost decade,” warned Sweeney. Epic’s CEO highlighted the attempts their company made to bring Fortnite to Google Play, disclosing that the only reason Google rejected the app was that they don’t support outside payment processing for microtransactions.

Sweeney’s point is that App Store, Google Play, and a lot of other digital storefronts are engaging in anticompetitive behaviors to force developers into closed ecosystems and pay the 30% fee to the platform holder. Epic Games released Fortnite as an Android APK, but Sweeney admits that is not an ideal customer experience. He would like to see the tech and gaming industries allow payment processing freedom for developers. 

Sweeney seen here with his anti-Facebook headgear.
Sweeney seen here with his anti-Facebook headgear.

Sweeney also highlighted the progress being made on purchase freedom, with Switch, PS4, and Xbox One all now allowing for Fortnite Item Shop purchases to appear across their platforms. He also highlighted the changes made to Rocket League as the company moved the game away from random loot boxes towards a system that is more fair to the player. He criticized the current industry loot box model for “playing on all aspects of gambling except for the ability to get money out in the end.”

Tim also chastised both the tech and gaming industries for what he calls an “customer adversarial business model,” specifically calling out Facebook, Google, Apple, and other gaming companies for how they handle their users’ data and privacy. These companies make billions in profits off of their users’ information, but the experience is far from perfect.

He pointed to the advent of the "@" symbol in email communication as a potential means for companies to move forward with a mind towards crossplay and cross platform communication. Sweeney touted the ability for Fortnite players to login to the game using a variety of different sign-ins, but readily admitted that the current crossplay friends list solutions are not ideal or even remotely close to what we have seen with the interoperability of networks via email. 

Sweeney did not seem incredibly hopeful that any of his suggested changes to payments in gaming, user privacy on the Internet, or ethical microtransactions are likely to happen this year, but a man can dream. A man can dream.

Be sure to keep up with all of the news and interviews from DICE 2020 at Shacknews all week.

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Asif Khan is the CEO and majority shareholder of Shacknews. He began his career in video game journalism as a freelancer in 2001 for Tendobox.com. Asif is a CPA and was formerly an investment adviser representative. After much success in his own personal investments, he retired from his day job in financial services and is currently focused on new private investments. His favorite PC game of all time is Duke Nukem 3D, and he is an unapologetic fan of most things Nintendo. Asif first frequented the Shack when it was sCary's Shugashack to find all things Quake. When he is not immersed in investments or gaming he is a purveyor of fine electronic music. Asif also has an irrational love of Cleveland sports.

From The Chatty
    • reply
      February 12, 2020 1:02 PM

      well, I can't say I disagree with any of his gripes

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      February 12, 2020 8:16 PM

      Man took BILLIIONS from the Chinese government, and he whines about "poor tech".

      Has he SEEN his webstore? It's shit. Even after the billions.

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        February 13, 2020 12:25 AM

        Yeah Epic and other huge game companies make it real easy to fight for the underdog. I miss the days when free mod tools actually delievered some of the most lasting and innovative new games on the horizon. Now the horizon looks so barren. Occasionally there is breakout talent or fresh original content but its almost exclusively the domain of small teams. The big houses are regurgitating familiar crap over and over.

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      February 13, 2020 12:03 AM

      I'd like to see Tim Sweeney call out bad labour practices for developers too. I'd be impressed with that.

      • reply
        February 13, 2020 12:10 AM

        Indeed. No mention of crunch in his talk.

      • reply
        February 13, 2020 12:13 AM

        His developers are among the highest paid in the industry. The Fortnite guys have received high six figures, low millions in bonuses each.

        QA contractors are not development.

    • reply
      February 13, 2020 6:02 AM

      Free game makes billions off kids' addiction calls gaming industry practices horrible.

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