Already accustomed to the big events for the seasonal changes within Fortnite, this time Epic Games has moved their adventures to reality. And the company has just started a strong campaign against mobile app stores and its already known margins and commissions.
Almost since the launch of its game, Epic has been criticized for the cut in revenue that Apple receives from each transaction made through the applications it approves, a figure that amounts to neither more nor less than 30% of all income. A standard that seems already assumed by the industry, present in the main game stores such as Steam and Google Play Store, and that has already become the personal crusade of Epic Games.
Among other initiatives, Epic launched your own PC game store, offering much lower cuts for developers (just 12%), and tried to bypass the Google Play Store by allowing direct download of the Fortnite apk for Android through their website. However, Apple has always been the toughest nut to crack.
Although without a doubt the latest idea of Epic Games passes almost more for a mockery than an attempt at mediation. And is that the company added a separate payment option that allowed Fortnite users to pay, with quite succulent discounts, for the content additions within the game, paying directly and exclusively to Epic.
While it may seem like a simple profit-making move, we need to look a little more in the current context. And it is that this announcement has occurred immediately after Apple refuses to allow the entry in the App Store of applications of games in the cloud like Google Stadia or Project xCloud (now Xbox Game Pass Ultimate), under the pretext that these contain their own game store outside of Apple’s reach, and therefore payment for each game would be required to be submitted for review individually.
However, Apple’s solution to Fornite has been quite blunt, opting directly to remove the application from its store. For its part, the Cupertino company justified its decision, in its statements to The Verge, ensuring that there would be no exceptions to its policies:
«Epic enabled a feature in their app that was not reviewed or approved by Apple, and they did so with the express intention to violate the App Store guidelines regarding in-app payments that apply to all developers selling digital goods or services […] Epic freely agreed to the terms and guidelines of the App Store and we are glad they have built such a successful business on the App Store. The fact that their business interests now lead them to press 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«.
While Apple also added that it would be willing to reinstate Fortnite if it did strike a deal with Epic, Epic’s subsequent actions make a compromise seem unlikely any time soon.
Epic Charges Against Apple’s Monopoly
Epic’s first response was to issue a lawsuit against the “abusive” ban on the App Store, attacking the absolute control that Apple exercises over which applications can be used on iOS, considering it an illegal monopoly: “Apple’s removal of Fortnite is another example of how Apple wields its enormous power to impose unreasonable restrictions and illegally maintain its 100% monopoly on the payment processing market in the iOS app«.
Accusations that, far from being an outburst, have been on the table for a long time. And it is that the apple company has been the subject of these antitrust accusations for years, intensified in recent months by large companies such as Microsoft, Google, Facebook or Spotify.
However, it seems Epic was not only preparing for this strong response from Apple, but it seems that they even used the implementation of this alternative payment method specifically for incite Apple to remove Fortnite from the App Store. And it is that in addition to the rapid demand, we find the short film called Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite, a parody of the 1984 Apple trailer directed by Ridley Scott for the original Macintosh.
Microsoft criticizes Apple, but also rejects Epic
However, Epic also updated its application for Android devices, adding this same discounted payment method that skips the margin of the Google store. Reason why the American giant has also decided to kick Fortnite from its app store, citing the same premise as Apple:
«Android’s open ecosystem allows developers to distribute apps across 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. Although Fortnite is still available on Android, we can no longer do it on Play because it violates our policies«.
However, in this case the impact for Epic Games will be somewhat less, since as we pointed out before, Android users already had an alternative method to download Fortnite directly from the official Epic site. Or so one would expect.
And now Epic has imposed a new lawsuit against Google, in which it states that it forced the manufacturer of OnePlus phones to break one of its agreements that included the special Fortnite launcher, outside the Play Store, pre-installed on OnePlus phones. Furthermore, it appears that Google is even putting pressure on other Android phone makers like LG, to avoid any plans to do the same.