Earlier today, Epic rolled out a new direct payment method for Fortnite on iOS and Android. With this new system, Fortnite players have the option of paying Epic directly for in-game purchases in exchange for a 20% discount on the items or V-Bucks they’re buying. That’s a big perk for players, and if they end up paying Epic directly, the company avoids using the App Store and Google Play Store as payment processors – and the 30% fee that Apple and Google skim off the top.
Obviously, that’s not something either Apple or Google will be happy with, and now just a few hours later, Apple has responded by pulling Fortnite from the App Store. That’s a huge blow to Epic, but it’s safe to say that many of us saw this coming.
In a statement sent to The Verge, Apple has some mostly-predictable things to say on the matter, saying that Epic violated App Store guidelines with its direct payment feature. Apple argued that Epic has benefitted from the App Store ecosystem for a decade at this point, and noted that it will work with Epic to get Fortnite back on the App Store. Below is Apple’s statement in full.
Today, Epic Games took the unfortunate step of violating the App Store guidelines that are applied equally to every developer and designed to keep the store safe for our users. As a result their Fortnite app has been removed from the store. Epic enabled a feature in its app which was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intent of violating the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to every developer who sells digital goods or services.
Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade, and have benefited from the App Store ecosystem – including it’s tools, testing, and distribution that Apple provides to all developers. Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely and we’re glad they’ve built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to push for a special arrangement does not change the fact that these guidelines create a level playing field for all developers and make the store safe for all users. We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.
Apple has, of course, taken issue with app developers trying to sidestep that 30% App Store fee in the past, and app developers – notably Spotify – have called foul on the company for these rules. The fact that Apple removed Fortnite from the App Store after catching wind about Epic’s direct payments isn’t surprising in the least, so now we’re left waiting to see who moves first.
Does Epic grin and bear that 30% App Store cut to get Fortnite back up, or does it wait to see if Apple budges and gives Fortnite special consideration? While it might seem like Apple holds all the power here, Fortnite is one of the most popular games in the world. Fortnite‘s legions of fans more than likely don’t care about App Store policy and politics, and Epic may be counting on them making a very visible fuss about Fortnite‘s removal in the hopes that it prompts Apple to make an exception.
We will see what happens, but seeing these two giants go head to head has definitely made for an interesting day. We’ll let you know when there’s a new development to report, so stay tuned for that.
UPDATE: Well, that didn’t take long – Epic has filed suit against Apple in California, as announced in the tweet above. In the suit, Epic argues that Apple has monopolized iOS app distribution. This is a civil antitrust lawsuit, which means that Epic isn’t seeking monetary damages, but it’s looking for a ruling that designates the App Store as a monopoly and provides relief for “fair competition.” As the day goes on, the plot thickens further, so we’ll see what moves Apple makes next – if it makes any at all.