Epic Games has taken legal against what it believes are illegal monopolistic practices conducted by Apple.
This follows after the company’s biggest video game, Fortnite, was banned from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store after Epic Games implemented its own payment portal within the application itself.
By adding this in-app direct payment gateway, Epic circumvented the additional charges levied by the platforms and was subsequently banned from the App Store and Google Play Store.
The conflict escalated quickly, with Epic Games implementing a planned campaign against Apple – including the publishing of a video parodying the company’s own historical advertising and portraying it as a monopoly.
The sequence of events which has led to Fortnite being banned from the Google Play Store and App Store, as well as the prepared reaction from Epic Games, is outlined below.
“Mega Drop” and Direct Payment
Epic Games kicked things off by publishing a Mega Drop” announcement which stated customers on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PC, and Mac would receive significant discounts when purchasing V-Bucks (the game’s in-game currency for microtransactions).
In addition to discounts on these platforms, Epic Games announced in the same update that it would introduce a direct payment option to its Android and iOS applications.
“Today, we’re also introducing a new way to pay on iOS and Android: Epic direct payment,” Epic Games said.
“When you choose to use Epic direct payments, you save up to 20% as Epic passes along payment processing savings to you.”
Previously, Fortnite players were forced to use Apple and Google payment options – each of which takes a 30% fee on in-app purchases. In comparison, Epic Games’ Direct Pay option offers a 20% price drop.
“If Apple or Google lower their fees on payments in the future, Epic will pass along the savings to you.”
The image below shows the direct payment purchase options for V-Bucks in the Android and iOS versions of Fortnite.
Banned from App Store
The response from Apple and Google to the inclusion of this direct payment option was swift and decisive.
The Fortnite app was banned from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store for violating the rules of these platforms – specifically with regards to in-app purchases.
Apple said that it would work with Epic Games to resolve the violations but said it would not provide special consideration to the company.
“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,” the company said in a statement to The Verge.
“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 said that Epic has had apps on the App Store for a decade and has benefited from the App Store ecosystem. It added that Epic agreed to the App Store terms and guidelines of their own volition.
“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,” Apple said.
“We will make every effort to work with Epic to resolve these violations so they can return Fortnite to the App Store.”
Banned from Google Play Store
Shortly after Fortnite’s removal from the App Store, the app was also booted off the Google Play Store.
This removal was justified by the Play Store terms and conditions, which require that game developer use Google Play In-app Billing as the method of payment.
In a statement to The Verge, Google said that it would continue discussions with Epic to bring back Fortnite to Google Play, noting that the app was still available for and compatible with the open Android ecosystem.
“The open Android ecosystem lets developers distribute apps through multiple app stores,” Google said. “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,” it said.
Following these moves by Google and Apple, Fortnite launched a “#FreeFortnite campaign against what it believes are monopolistic practices by both companies.
“Apple is keeping prices high so they can collect 30% of your payments, and is blocking Fortnite in order to prevent Epic from passing on the savings from direct payments to you!” Epic Games said.
“Join the fight against @AppStore on social media with #FreeFortnite.”
Epic Games said it has taken legal action to end Apple’s “anti-competitive restrictions” on mobile device marketplaces.
The company published a video parodying Apple’s 1984 Macintosh commercial, this time depicting Apple as the totalitarian monopoly.
The “Nineteen Eighty-Fortnite” campaign and original Macintosh advert can be viewed below.