Well, that escalated quickly.
Yesterday, Epic rolled out a new direct payment system in Fortnite on both iOS and Android. The company also announced a permanent discount on V-bucks, Fortnite‘s in-game currrency, and other purchases in the game. Players can only get the discount if they choose to pay directly, not through the App Store or Google Play Store.
V-bucks and other items will cost the same as always if purchased through the App Store or Google Play Store. The new direct option (a credit card or PayPal) comes with the discount.
And then what happened?
Clearly, the new payment option allows Epic to bypass the standard 30 percent fee taken by the mobile stores. Apple responded immediately and removed Fortnite from the App Store on the same day.
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.
Apple via The Verge
Despite the removal, Apple said it’s ready to “make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”
And then what?
To that Epic responded by filing a civil antitrust lawsuit against Apple.
“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),” reads the legal complaint, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of California.
Epic claims that Apple’s requirement that its payment method should be used exclusively is in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890, a fundamental piece of the US antitrust law.
We are yet to see how that develops. In the meantime, Epic is calling on gamers “to stop 2020 from becoming 1984.”
What about Google?
After Epic introduced the alternative payment option in Fortnite‘s Android version, Google also removed the title from its Play Store. Fortnite had only been available on Google Play for around four months. Before that, the Android version of the title was available to download directly from the Epic Games App.
Epic launched its battle royale hit on Google Play in April citing pressure from Google, and now it is back to using its own app launcher, which means that Anroid users can sill download the game outside of Google Play.