So, uh, Apple just yanked the biggest game in the world off of the App Store. Fortnite, still an industry-defying phenomenon almost three years into its life, is currently unavailable on the iOS platform. The reason? Epic Games, Fortnite’s developer, is intentionally challenging Apple’s policy that in-app purchases have to be made through Apple, and not any other method.
In response Epic has filed suit against Apple, accusing the tech giant of “anti-competitive restraints and monopolistic practices.”
This was all kicked off earlier today when Epic announced that it was permanently lowering the price for V-Bucks, the in-game currency purchased with real money, by 20%. As part of the change, mobile players would have to agree to a new form of payment in order to get the discount. If they want to buy V-Bucks through the App Store or Android’s Google Play Store, they’ll still have to pay the old price; for the new, lower price, they’ll have to directly pay Epic. Epic explained its beef with Apple on a post to its site earlier today. This is Epic’s attempt to get around the 30% fee that both Apple and Google take from any app purchase. Players save money on V-Bucks, while Epic itself gets a bigger piece of the action by cutting out the app store owners. Of course, this is in direct violation of Apple’s App Store guidelines, as explicitly laid out on Apple’s website.
Well, in response, Apple essentially told Epic to get bent. They’ve dumped Fortnite entirely from the App Store, removing the massive hit from the device that holds just under 50% of the smartphone market in the U.S.
Apple laid out its case in a statement provided to the press, pointing out that the new sales feature wasn’t “reviewed or approved by Apple,” and that it was implemented “with the express intent of violating” Apple guidelines.
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 [sic] 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.
And in response to the game getting pulled, Epic went ahead and filed that lawsuit.
So what happens when the studio behind the biggest game in the world, with the backing of its multibillion dollar corporate owner, goes head to head with a legendary tech giant worth over a trillion dollars? Well, some players lose out, but the rest of us get to gawk with glee at the spectacle about to unfold.