Epic Games is diametrically opposed to Apple and Google, after both tech companies pulled Fortnite from their app stores. What happened and what is behind it? We list the facts.
On August 13, Epic Games added a new option Fortnite on iOS and Android. Players could now purchase digital extras in-game outside of Apple by using a new payment system. Players also immediately received a 20 percent discount.
The studio bypassed Apple’s and Google’s current policy in this way. Game makers on iOS and Android are required to use payment systems from the tech giants, collecting a 30 percent commission. This would be necessary to cover the costs of the App Store and Play Store, among other things.
Because Fortnite violated the rules of both Google and Android, the companies decided to pull the game from their digital stores. Until today it is not possible to Fortnite on an iPhone. The game is still available on Android, but via a detour outside the Google store.
Could Epic Games see this coming?
Probably, and everything indicates that the company was counting on this outcome. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has often been critical of Apple’s policies in the past, saying it took too much money.
Almost immediately after Apple was the first to remove the game from its store, the game maker responded with a critical video Fortnite broadcast, which was seen there by millions of people. In this parody of Apple’s old 1984 ad, the tech giant is compared to a totalitarian state.
The video was followed by a lawsuit, after which the company also took Google to court after the game was removed from Google Play. Both the video and the court papers were ready.
By breaking the rules of Google and Apple and having the game erased, the game studio wants Fortnite set an example: this is what happens to apps that don’t follow the rules of the two largest smartphone companies. This made the update a trick to provoke a conflict.
Why is Epic Games doing this?
With the lawsuit, Epic Games hopes to change the rules of the app stores, so that software makers, for example, no longer have to pay such a high commission. In both charges, the game giant states that 30 percent is much too high.
In the case of Apple, there is no alternative: apps for iPhones and iPads may only be offered in the App Store. Epic Games also hopes the lawsuit will allow it to open its own app store on iOS, something that Apple has not allowed anyone to date.
“We are fighting for the freedom of anyone who has bought a smartphone,” Sweeney clarified on his Twitter account. “So that they can one day choose from which source they can install apps.”
In the Fortnite broadcast video, meanwhile, helps to influence public opinion about the argument. Millions of gamers were told in a video that Apple is the culprit, which will be fought by Epic Games. Those same gamers are urged to join the discussion under the hashtag #FreeFortnite.
What do Apple and Google think about this?
An Apple spokesperson said it was “regrettable” that the game company had chosen to break the rules. According to the tech giant, those rules exist to keep users safe: by running payments through Apple, the chance of scams or other problems would be smaller.
Apple emphasizes that the rules are the same for every company and therefore a fair market exists. A statement from Google reiterates this point: the search giant has “consistent rules across all games to keep users safe.”
What is going to happen now?
The lawsuits against Apple and Google have yet to start. It is not yet known how long these legal processes will take. But because a ruling can set a precedent that could completely change the app stores, the chances are that the three involved will appeal after a judgment.
Meanwhile, Apple’s App Store is also being investigated for abuse of power by, among others, the European Commission. Companies like Spotify find the 30 percent commission unfair because Apple’s own services don’t have to pay that extra amount. This gives Apple Music, for example, an easier market position on iPhones.
In any case, the chance is small Fortnite will be available again soon in the App Store and Play Store.