- Epic has launched a direct payment system in Fortnite on Android and iOS.
- In response, Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store.
- Epic Games later announced that it was taking legal action against Apple for anti-competitive behavior.
Update #2: August 13, 2020 at 3:48 PM ET: The Apple vs Fortnite battle is raging on. Epic Games announced that it’s taking legal action against Apple for removing Fortnite from the App Store, citing anti-competitive behavior. You can read the full complaint here.
In the paper, Epic wrote:
Rather than tolerate this healthy competition and compete on the merits of its offering, Apple responded by removing Fortnite from sale on the App Store, which means that new users cannot download the app, and users who have already downloaded prior versions of the app from the App Store cannot update it to the latest version. This also means that Fortnite players who downloaded their app from the App Store will not receive updates to Fortnite through the App Store, either automatically or by searching the App Store for the update. Apple’s removal of Fortnite is yet another example of Apple flexing its enormous power in order to impose unreasonable restraints and unlawfully maintain its 100% monopoly over the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market.
Update: August 13, 2020 at 3:00 PM ET: That didn’t take long. Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman confirmed on Twitter that Epic’s Fortnite has been removed from Apple’s App Store following the direct payment system update. Indeed, the app is no longer available for download from the App Store.
Android Authority is still waiting to hear back from Google and Epic regarding today’s events. For now, it appears Fortnite is still available in the Play Store.
Original article: August 13, 2020 at 12:11 PM ET: Epic Games has been very vocal about its displeasure with the 30% cut Apple and Google demand from app sales, and it’s now taking those policies head-on by trying to bypass those stores for in-game currency.
The developer has introduced an Epic direct payment system for Fortnite on Android and iOS that offers lower prices for V-Bucks while calling out the premium you pay on the App Store and Google Play Store. It costs $10 to buy 1,000 V-Bucks through Apple and Google, for example, but that drops to $8 if you use Epic’s payment method. Prices drop up to 20% if you use direct payment, Epic said.
The direct payment system is currently supported in dozens of countries, including the US, UK, Canada, and India. Some of them require US dollars. There are some conspicuous exceptions to support, such as Brazil, mainland China, Russia, South Africa, and South Korea.
The company pitched the direct payments as a way to offer “more choice” to players while “pass[ing] along the savings” to players. It pointed to “thousands” of apps that are allowed to offer direct payments (albeit for physical goods) as support for its argument, including Amazon, DoorDash, and Lyft. However, it’s also a not-so-subtle challenge to Apple and Google: either lower your share of in-game purchases or ban one of the most popular games on your store.
We’ve asked Epic and Google for comment.
The move comes right as Apple and Google are facing increased political scrutiny in the US, the EU, and other areas. Officials are concerned the companies are abusing their app store ownership to stifle competition or otherwise squeeze developers. Epic isn’t necessarily trying to use this scrutiny to its advantage, but any fight over its direct payment system could easily draw more attention from regulators.