14 August 2020 02:31
(Pocket-lint) - Epic Games boldly moved Fortnite to an in-app payment system, to bypass Apple's controversial 30 per cent fee. In response, Apple has promptly removed the developer's popular battle royale from its App Store. Google also booted Fortnite from its Play Store. Now, Epic Games has filed suit. Apple has been facing an increase in anti-trust complaints from several developers and publishers over the past few months.
They've essentially argued Apple takes too big of a cut of their revenue and holds all the power and doesn't treat everyone fairly. Epic CEO Tim Sweeney is among the many who have long called for changes to how Apple and Google do business with developers. This current escalation certainly seems like a planned approach on Epic's behalf. On 13 August, Epic Games sneakily updated both the iPhone and Android versions Fortnite, allowing users to pay Epic Games directly for in-app purchases. The developer also published a video mocking Apple's iconic 1984 ad (above) and a FAQ page outlining how its new in-app payment system results in lower prices. To buy 1,000 V-bucks, for example, it now costs $7.99, whereas before, through Apple's system, that amount of currency would cost you $9.99. Apple issued a lengthy comment on Thursday (below), claiming Epic Games violates App Store guidelines that are applied to every developer: "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." Once removed from the Apple App Store, Epic Games filed a civil lawsuit against Apple, hoping to prove Apple is a monopoly. The developer is also seeking injunctive relief on fees to "allow fair competition" when it comes to app distribution. Epic Games' complaint against Apple reads: "Epic brings this suit to end Apple's unfair and anti-competitive actions that Apple undertakes to unlawfully maintain its monopoly in two distinct, multibillion-dollar markets: (i) the iOS App Distribution Market, and (ii) the iOS In-App Payment Processing Market(each as defined below)." Keep in mind Epic Games implemented its in-app own payment system in the Android version of Fortnite, as well. But Google waited until late on Thursday to boot it from the Play Store. Although Google's rules are more lenient regarding in-app purchases, it requires all games to use the Play Store's system as their only method of payment. And Google takes a 30 per cent cut - just like Apple. Here is Google's statement: "The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores. For game developers who choose to use the Play Store, we have consistent policies that are fair to developers and keep the store safe for users. While Fortnite remains available on Android, we can no longer make it available on Play because it violates our policies. However, we welcome the opportunity to continue our discussions with Epic and bring Fortnite back to Google Play." If you have already downloaded the iOS version of Fortnite, you can continue to access it. Only new game downloads are no longer available for the iPhone and iPad. You can still install Fortnite on your Android device, however, as Google allows downloads from multiple stores. Android is considered an open ecosystem, unlike iOS, which forces users to download from Apple's App Store. Epic's website details how to download Fortnite for Android through the Epic Games app or via the Samsung Galaxy Store. Writing by Maggie Tillman.