Fortnite, the world’s most popular video game, has been removed from App Store, one of the world’s most dominant mobile software marketplaces, for adding a direct payments feature and bypassing Apple’s standard 30 percent fee.
It comes at a time when iPhone maker Apple navigates antitrust concerns over its operation of the App Store and the rules it imposes on certain developers, The Verge reported.
The Epic Games battle royale game Fortnite has amassed 350 million players globally since its 2017 launch.
After it was kicked off App Store, Epic responded with an antitrust lawsuit seeking to establish Apple’s App Store as a monopoly. It also posted “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” — a protest video — on YouTube and within Fortnite itself mocking the iPhone maker’s iconic “1984” ad and calling on gaming fans to #FreeFortnite by supporting its fight against Apple. The video is a reference to Apple’s famous Super Bowl ad from 1984 directed by Ridley Scott.
Apple responded with a statement saying Epic wants special treatment and has enabled a feature on its app that was not approved by Apple.
“Apple said Epic is seeking a special deal, but that’s not true. We’re fighting for open platforms and policy changes equally benefiting all developers. And it’ll be a hell of a fight!” Epic CEO Tim Sweeney tweeted.
Epic acted “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,” the company said in a statement sent to The Verge.
According to Epic, multiple apps have been allowed by Apple to use direct payments including those from Amazon, Grubhub, Best Buy, Fandango, Uber, Lyft and StubHub, Variety reported.
On Thursday, Epic announced a 20 percent discount for “Fortnite” players who buy the game’s virtual currency directly from Epic, instead of from Apple or Google.
Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines freely, Apple said in a statement. “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.”
Epic also implemented its own payment system in the Android version of Fortnite and Google took similar action, removing the game from Google Play Store. Android users can still download Fortnite using Epic’s own app launcher, which it distributes independently through any mobile web browser.
Epic CEO Sweeney complained for years that mobile app stores no longer justify the 30 percent cut they take from all developers, and he’s called for substantial changes to how companies like Apple and Google conduct business with third-party developers.
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“It’s time for change,” Sweeney told The Verge in 2018. “Apple, Google, and Android manufacturers make vast, vast profits from the sale of their devices and do not in any way justify the 30 percent cut.”
On Twitter, responses were mixed to news of the Epic-Apple split.
Gamer and VR lover PMSJordan tweeted, “Apple has every right to do that to Fortnite. Its their storefront and Epic was trying to cut them out of the revenue. Epic would 100% do the same thing if a dev on the EGS made a work around for you to buy DLC & MicroTransactions straight through them without EGS getting a cut.”
“Epic is the hero we need but don’t deserve. These people really about to end apple’s BS policies.” FusionMan tweeted.
“Oh it’s on…” Erin tweeted @EriniOS.