App Store war: Apple deletes Fortnite after Epic Games adds direct payment

Shots have been fired in what could be a very big App Store war. Apple deleted Fortnite after Epic deliberately violated terms by adding direct payments. …

Shots have been fired in what could be a gigantic App Store war. Apple deleted Fortnite after Epic Games deliberately violated terms of service by adding a direct payment for the popular game, cutting out Apple from sales.

Epic Games announced its Fortnite “mega drop,” a permanent discount on V-bucks (Fortnite’s in-game currency) and other cash purchases in the game of up to 20%. It also introduced a new direct-payment option. If you purchased V-bucks in the game through the iOS App Store or Google Play, the cost is the same as it used to be. But under the new direct option, the discount is included.

There’s a lot at stake in this battle. Measurement firm Sensor Tower said Fortnite saw approximately 2.4 million installs in the last 30 days and generated $43.4 million in consumer spending on the App Store globally. To date, the game has reached 133.2 million installs and seen $1.2 billion in spending worldwide on the App Store alone.

Epic Games said that Apple and Google continue to collect an “exorbitant 30% fee on all payments.” If Apple and Google lower their fees, Epic will pass along the savings to players. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has been asking Apple and Android to end their “monopolistic practices” for months because he feels like their fees are an unfair tax on all developers.

Apple pulled the app, and Epic Games is now suing Apple. Epic Games has filed a complaint for injunctive relief, alleging Apple has monopolized the iOS ap distrubtion market, as well as the iOS in-app payment processing market, and other harms. Epic Games said in the lawsuit against Apple that its behavior has been anticompetitive. That’s sure to raise the interest of lawmakers and regulators, who recently held hearings in Washington D.C. with an eye to the antitrust violations of the big tech companies. We have asked Apple and Google for additional comment.

In a statement, Apple said the following:

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 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 its 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.

Sweeney has also called Google’s Android a “fake open system” for putting up barriers in front of users when Epic Games enabled players to sideload Fortnite directly from the Epic Games site, rather than through the Google Play store. Sweeney has said he has no intention of cutting a special deal for Epic and wants instead for all developers to get the same relief from the high fees. Epic itself charges only a 12% cut on sales in the Epic Games Store.

Back in February, in a speech at the game industry’s Dice Summit, Sweeney said, “And I am really hopeful that we get through it. We’re all going to have to be steadfast in fighting for these things, the opening up of games and cross-platform play, having a lot of tough and painful conversations between parties, which ultimately resulted in great, great things for all gamers. And we need to be prepared to have those unpleasant conversations as much as we need in order to achieve that future.”

Looks like the time for talking has ended.

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