Epic has become one of the most important game developers in the world on the success of Fortnite, which is available on PC, consoles, and mobile. Epic CEO Tim Sweeny has railed against the 30 percent cut of revenue developers pay to Apple and Google, and now he’s ready to go to war over it. The latest version of Fortnite on Android and iOS intentionally violates both company’s payment policies. The question is, who’s going to blink?
Apple set the standard for mobile software pricing when it launched the App Store in 2008. Apps and games cost a few bucks, and Apple kept 30 percent as compensation for running the store. Google copied Apple’s approach when it launched paid content on the Android Market, now known as Google Play. Both companies have also implemented rules that prevent developers from including other payment methods that circumvent the 30 percent cut, and Sweeny has been vocal about his disapproval.
Now, Fortnite has launched a new payment option for both iOS and Android that brazenly violates both app stores’ policies. When purchasing items or V-bucks in Fortnite Mobile, players can now choose between the built-in payment system and a new Epic direct payment, which links out to the Epic Store. You get a 20 percent “Mega Drop” discount for paying that way, and Epic says that discount is permanent. That gets Epic 10 percent more money from each transaction even with the discount.
Players who buy a lot of in-game resources are likely to take Epic up on its offer, which could all but eliminate the revenue Apple and Google get from the game. At that point, why keep the game around at all? That seems to be Epic’s thinking — it’s almost daring the companies to kick Fortnite out of their respective stores.
This plan could backfire for Epic, though. Apple has removed apps and games for much less, and there’s no way for iOS users to get the game outside of Apple’s walled garden. On Android, Epic still offers direct downloads, and Sweeny does plan to launch the Epic Store for Android at some point. This controversy could give Epic an excuse to launch the store on Android.
For the time being, Fortnite is still available on both app stores. That could change at any time, though.
Update: It appears Apple has called Epic’s bluff. Fortnite has been pulled from the App Store. Here is Apple’s statement.
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 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.
Epic isn’t backing down, either. It has already filed a lawsuit against Apple seeking an injunction that will return Fortnite to the App Store.
Epic Games has filed legal papers in response to Apple, read more here: https://t.co/c4sgvxQUvb
— Fortnite (@FortniteGame) August 13, 2020
The document is 60 pages, so clearly, Epic had this ready to go before it announced the Mega Drop.
- Epic Grudgingly Releases Fortnite for Android on Google Play Store
- Epic Games CEO Says Android Is ‘Fake Open’ but Apple Is Even Worse
- Sony Bows to the Inevitable, Allows Fortnite Cross-Play on PS4